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January 2009

Steele elected RNC chair, statements from Iowa GOP leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Iowa's three voting members of the Republican National Committee released the following statements upon the election of former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele as RNC chairman.

RPI Chairman Matt Strawn:

"I am excited to work with Chairman Steele to advance our principled agenda, rebuild our party from the grassroots up, and elect Republicans all across Iowa. I am also encouraged by my conversations with Chairman Steele regarding Iowa's First in the Nation presidential status. I will work closely with him to ensure Iowa retains its leading role for the 2012 caucus and beyond"

National Committeeman Steve Scheffler:

"It is a new day. I am thrilled that our newly elected national party chairman, Michael Steele, is going to lead us to once again becoming the majority party--based on enunciating our winning conservative message, a 50 state strategy, and perfecting our technological and fundraising prowess."

National Committeewoman Kim Lehman:

"With sincere honor, I support and congratulate Chairman Steele. I look forward to working with him in the defense of families, our liberties and the security of our country. Chairman Steele has committed, with great clarity, his ability to bring this party back to its greatness, which transcends politics."


Republicans Call on Governor to Freeze Pork Projects

DES MOINES, IA. -- House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) today called for Gov. Culver to freeze all pork spending that has yet to be paid for.

“Republicans are committed to trying to find savings to help our state stay afloat during this tough recession,” said Paulsen. “Frivolous, payback spending has no place in budgets, and if he’s going to be serious about saving the state money, this should be an easy first step for the governor.”

Paulsen specifically points to money allocated for a Dubuque Amtrak station. Though money has been appropriated for the station, there is no Amtrak line that runs through Dubuque. Iowans refer to this as the train station to nowhere.

According to the nonpartisan Fiscal Bureau, the funding for the Dubuque Amtrak station is available and unobligated. Since the contracts have not been signed yet, the state can still recoup that money.

“The governor should take this step to cut out pork projects,” said Paulsen. “We hope he will stand with House Republicans to help cut out wasteful spending, save the state money and put taxpayers before political paybacks.”

This is one step where Republicans are making good on their pledge to dive into budgets to find savings. This savings was found today and must be acted upon quickly.


Governor Culver Releases State Fiscal Year 2010 Budget; $700 Million in Bonding and Property Tax Increases Revealed!

This week at the Statehouse, Governor Culver finally released his proposed budget for the state. While Culver is touting a six-and-a-half percent across the board cut, the numbers do not add up.

For State Fiscal Year 2010, the Governor is recommending a state budget of $6.211 billion, but the Governor's recommendation ends up being an increase of $115.2 million over the previous fiscal year! Governor Culver's recommendation is the largest state budget in Iowa History.

As reported in the First Week of Session Edition of The ITR Watchdog, Governor Culver proposed a $700 million bonding in his Condition of the State Speech. Unfortunately, for Iowa taxpayers, the Governor has not let this idea go, and has made the $700 million borrowing proposal part of his budget recommendations. Taxpayers would be on the hook to pay back these bonds for a $56 million annual payment for the next twenty years.

Iowans for Tax Relief OPPOSES bonding for expenditures which should be funded through other mechanisms. Iowans for Tax Relief prefers plans based on a pay-as-you-go concept for government infrastructure projects.

The Governor claims he is not raising taxes in his budget, but several of his recommendations will increase property taxes. First, cutting the state-funded portion of the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which will increase homeowner's property tax bills. Governor Culver also recommended capping the state-funded portion of allowable growth, which has the potential to shift as much as $40 million to all property taxpayers.

Property Tax Increase #1. Governor Culver has recommended cutting the Homestead Property Tax Credit from $99.3 million to $49.4 million. The Homestead Property Tax Credit was created in 1937 to provide property tax relief and to encourage homeownership. To qualify for the Homestead Property Tax Credit, Iowans must own and occupy a property as a homestead, declare residency in Iowa for income tax purposes, and occupy the property for at least six months each calendar year.

Over the past three years, the Homestead Property Tax Credit has been funded at $99.3 million level. The massive cut to the Homestead Property Tax Credit will directly affect homeowners, who are already not receiving their full property tax credit. This results directly in homeowners property tax bills increasing statewide by nearly $50 million.

The actual value of the credit is equal to the actual levy on the first $4,850 of value of the home. To find out how much your Homestead Property Credit is, look on your property tax statement, which will be mailed to you from your county assessor.

Iowans are encouraged to make smart homeownership decisions and Governor Culver wants to dramatically cut a tool which lowers the Iowa property tax burden, making it harder for all Iowans to stay in their homes.

Property Tax Increase #2. Last year, the Governor recommended and approved 4% allowable growth for school funding. The approval of 4% allowable growth triggered an automatic property tax increase of approximately $47 million.

On Wednesday, Governor Culver also recommended capping the state-funded portion of allowable growth, which has the potential to shift as much as $40 million to private, commercial, and agricultural property taxpayers.

The State will fund allowable growth at approximately $2.531 billion, which equates to the state funding allowable growth at 2% (instead of 4%). The Governor allows school districts to maintain the spending authority under the 4% figure. When state funding is cut, but the spending authority remains, school districts would be allowed to levy property taxes to fill the void left by the state.

This is just the beginning of the budget process, and Iowans for Tax Relief will continue to keep you updated through the weekly Watchdog and Special Edition Watchdogs on Legislative action on the state budget.

Iowa Transparency Act of 2009 Update

The Iowa Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2009, House File 74, continues forward through the Legislative Process.

The bill was referred to the House State Government Committee, and assigned to the subcommittee of Rep. Marcella Frevert (D-Emmetsburg), Rep. Charles Isenhart (D-Dubuque), and Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R-Mt. Auburn).

Iowans for Tax Relief is pleased to see this important legislation move forward. We encourage you to contact your legislator to urge them to move this bill forward. If you are unsure of who your Senator or Representative is, go to our Legislative Lookup on our Website at: http://www.taxrelief.org/legislators


Despite sour economy County Supervisors to consider giving themselves a raise

The Johnson County Compensation Board last night recommended that the county's elected officials receive a 3 percent pay raise for fiscal year 2010.
 
If you'll recall, Supervisors fattened up their budget for fiscal 2009 by more than 13% over the previous year, escalating up to approximately $75 million from about $64 million.  Part of that increase included 3.5% pay raises for the likes of Supervisor Rod 'Blago' Sullivan and Auditor Tom 'Hickup' Slockett.  
 
The vote for this proposed raise was 4-2 in favor of the raise.
 
Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek wants a pay raise so he can be the fifth highest paid Sheriff in the state......  That's his argument, I work in the fifth highest populated county, so then I should be the fifth highest paid Sheriff in the state......  Pay based on population, as opposed to merit. 
 
Voting in favor of the raise were Compensation Board members Bill Kapp, Hyman Joseph, Joe Moreland, and Janelle Rettig.
 
Janelle Rettig if you'll recall, was a co-chair for the vote yes loons on the Conservation Bond issue.    One might ask if there is a little quid pro quo going on here, *thanking* Supervisors Sullivan, Neuzil, and Stutsman for pushing the Conservation Bond issue.
 
A big thanks goes out to Compensation Board members David Steen and Laura Hahn who voted against the raise.
 
If you would like to inquire with Janelle Rettig on how she can justify her approval of pay raises in government, when the county Supervisors are most likely facing deficit  spending, considering additional taxation because they can't budget properly - while people in the real world are making tough decisions and getting laid off...
 
She can be emailed at:
 
 

You may also want to consider taking the time to contact the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, who will give the final vote yes or no on this pay raise.  Just copy and paste the following letter, (add your own comments if you like) and then click the links to Supervisor email addresses listed below:
 
 

------------------------

 

 

Dear Supervisor,

 

Given these sour economic times, the wisdom of authorizing a pay raise for elected officials such as yourself, needs to be questioned.

To borrow from a friend who has done some professional level research on this:

 

In Iowa , State government workers make $1,051 per week, on average.

 

Private sector worker/owners, in contrast, make an average of only $702 per week, or over $300 less.

 

The average Federal worker in Iowa makes $1,025, or about $25 per week less than State employees, but still $275 more than the private sector.

 

Did you realize that?

 

So at over $49,000 annually, you make more in an official part time role, than your full time counterpart in the private sector. 

 

When Johnson County residents are facing layoffs, reduced hours, reductions in pay, etc., you need to lead by example.  County government needs to cut back, not grow.

 

I strongly urge you to vote no on the pay raise.

----------------------------------------

 
lmeyers@co.johnson.ia.us (Vice Chairman)
 
 
 
 


The economy sucks and the government wants more money.......

JOHNSON COUNTY, IA. -- You either know someone or are someone facing one of these conditions:  Layoffs, salary reductions, going from full time to part time, businesses going out of business.....

And what is area government's reaction to the sour economy?

  1. Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, is promoting a bill in the state legislature that would allow cities to levy a tax on personal income. 
  2. On January 14th, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors proposed members get a 3 percent pay raise in fiscal year 2010.
  3. Iowa City Councilors Connie Champion and Mike O'Donnell favor putting a sales tax option up for referendum as early as March.
  4. The Coralville Mayor and City Council have asked that Iowa City consider putting the local (option) sales tax on the ballot, which opens the door to a county-wide tax.

When your pockets look like rabit ears, the government arrogantly comes knocking on your door for more money!


 


Grassley Working to give government watchdog access to information about use of TARP dollars

WASHINGTON --- Senators Chuck Grassley and Max Baucus today introduced legislation to strengthen the ability of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to make its quarterly (?) assessments of the government effort to try to rescue America’s financial system.

The bill introduced today – the Troubled Asset Relief Program Enhancement Act – would require any private entity that receives federal funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to give the GAO access to its books and records.

“This is a common sense measure to establish accountability for the use of the public’s money,” said Grassley. “In the bill that established the $700 billion rescue operation, Congress said the GAO had to conduct a regular review of how things were going, but Congress didn’t make sure the GAO would have access to the kinds of information it needs to really assess how the money is being used and the effectiveness of how the money is distributed. This bill would close that gap and enable the GAO to conduct a more thorough review.”

“The legislation we’re offering today – in addition to the Special Inspector General I created to oversee the TARP program – will help ensure the climate of transparency and accountability the American people deserve and expect,” said Baucus. “The number and variety of financial institutions receiving money from Treasury is extensive, and tracking the path of these dollars through these institutions is no small task. On behalf of the American people, GAO has a right and responsibility to access all information relating to these transactions.”

The senators said they hoped that Congress would pass their proposal as quickly as possible and get it to the President’s desk for a signature. The text of the bill is attached and posted with this news release at http://finance.senate.gov.

Editor's Note:  The TARP program should never have been approved.  It hasn't fixed anything and this was sold to us as an immediate remedy remember?  Our elected officials are stepping closer and closer to socialism and we're just sitting here on the sidelines watching them do it.  Nationalized banks, Nationalized car companies, Nationalized Wall Street.......Nationalized health care is next folks....  Grassley shouldn't be negotiating any of this, he should be rejecting it outright!


RPI Chairman: Budget gimmicks no substitute for leadership

DES MOINES, IA. -- Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn has issued the following statement in response to Governor Culver’s 2010 budget proposal:

"While this budget represents a step in the right direction, budget gimmicks and raiding reserve funds are no substitute for real leadership.

Iowans need to hear from Governor Culver that these self-inflicted financial problems are the result of Democrat overspending, and Republicans stand ready to provide the leadership and spending discipline that our state desperately needs."