Governor’s proposals more partyline politics

If nothing else was learned from Tuesday’s Condition of the State address, it’s this – the trifecta of the GOP-controlled legislature was on full display.

A 4% flat tax, a re-employment focus over an unemployment focus with accompanying benefit cuts, and more efforts to move public funds to private schools.

Most of the time I was watching and trying to make sure that was Central Lee’s Trey Wellman sitting next to the Governor. It was. That was pretty cool for us to see and really cool for him to experience.

The rest of the time had me talking to the screen.

I wanna say at the outset that I’m more conservative than I’ve ever been in my life. I think it started when Lee and I started our own business. You certainly get an instinct to hold onto the money you earn working 14 and 15 hours a day.

But I’ve never complained about paying taxes at a higher proportion because we’re fortunate to be able to do that.

That’s why I can’t get behind a 4% flat tax.

I have to say I was surprised to hear Reynolds make the proposal. Republicans have been hinting about eliminating income tax in the state. I think Reynolds thinks this might be a better alternative and easier for moderates to swallow in an election year.

She called it a fairer tax. It’s not really, even though it’s routinely presented that way from the right.

Simple math law says if you set a tax rate anywhere between the progressive rates that are in place now, you’re automatically reducing the tax burden of the wealthy while increasing the tax burden of the poor.

Even if there is a certain income limit that is exempt from tax, that limit is probably already in play. And, flat taxes systems usually eliminate mortgage deductions and child care credits. These are tax credits that make it easier for middle and low-income families to be more self-sustaining.

Flat tax systems also typically eliminate tax on investment income i.e. capital gains, interest income… that kind of thing. Again, favoring the wealthy. Some economists, including those at the Brookings Institute, say a flat tax will curb savings because of the eliminations of tax credits the low and middle income plan on, while state revenues could take a hit by not taxing investment and capital gains income.

This is a plan to cater to the people that fund her campaign in an election year. But that’s politics as usual and nothing surprising.

Another thing that seems a bit hypocritical is the GOP saying government shouldn’t engage in private health care choices when it comes to vaccines, but they’re all over your choices when you’re pregnant.

These are election year postures. The scary part is they have, and have had, the numbers to get these things done.

I get the re-employment program. I like it. We must get back to work. I think legislators at both state and federal levels should implement incentives to move our GDP back to a vehicle of production over a vehicle of finance.

I think the $1,000 bonuses to health care workers and law enforcement officers is a nice nod, but not where the money needs to go. We must help with retention and recruitment programming and I think any health care or law enforcement administrator would tell you they would forego the $670 after-tax bonus in favor of a comprehensive plan to adequately staff our sheriffs’ departments, jails, prisons, and health care facilities.

As the market drives wages up for jobs that are far less risk-intensive, these deputies, officers, nurses et. al., are now looking at jobs that are safer. Plain and simple.

The GOP wants to dump the $1 billion surplus back into the wallets of Iowans. I’m just not sure that right now is the time to cut taxes. It may be more apropos for metro areas of the state, but rural Iowa still needs budgeting help at the local level.

Almost every department in the county is asking for a 10% increase in payroll and that is a direct result of, first, an unfunded mandate in the Back the Blue law, and then, years of not giving credence to the county’s compensation board recommendations on pay. But, in fairness, the county has to balance that budget.

Why not use some of that surplus to help local governments fund pay raises to assist in staffing, especially when those raises are rooted in legislative action.

I just can’t get on board with the smack-around politics of we lead, you follow. I don’t like it when Democrats do it either. If this is the temperament of politics, we’ll never get back to being the shining beacon on the hill. I think that was Reaganism. I’m not a liberal, but I am progressive. And progress is rooted in bringing all sides to the conversation, working the room, engaging a good-faith consideration of all valuable input, and calling the play.

I’ve never been a big fan of routing public funds to private schools. I think that signals the beginning of the end of what should be one of our countries finest institutions – public schools. Things have changed. We struggle in public schools to generate output, but we’re getting stronger at vocational programming and we can’t take the wind out of those sails.

I’ll take a wait-and-see approach. Holy Trinity and Burlington Notre Dame generate high quality students, but then they don’t have the requirements around special education and IEPs that public schools have. My biggest concern is that the board meetings of private school boards be opened to public scrutiny, if they are going to be funneled public funds.

I don’t know. I typically just let it roll. Accept the mandate of the voters and work the best we can in the system we have. But I just found myself frustrated with the direction of Gov. Kim Reynold’s address.

The crazy thing is that, despite that frustration, the only choice we have is at the ballot box, and to work within the system operated by those we send to do the operating.

And speaking of something that feels just a bit right, the Fort Madison boys basketball team is a rip to watch this year. If you haven’t gone to the Hound Dome or one of the other area gyms when this senior-laden team is wreaking havoc on opposing teams with a dynamic full court press, a perimeter game that runs about five deep, and scrappy Dayton Davis that keeps just about every ball alive on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor – you’re really missing something.

If you haven’t been there… get there. But that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is the editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at charles.v@pencitycurrent.com.

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