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December 5th, 2009

A Billion Dollar$ Upside Down

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Written by: The Iowa Republican
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capitoldarkA one billion dollar deficit.

Iowa did not even have a one billion dollar budget until 1976 but all of the out of control spending by Governor Culver and legislative Democrats during the last three years has put our state in a perilous fiscal predicament.

Governor Culver signed and legislative Democrats passed the single largest amount of spending in state history at a time when we have far more government than our economy can support. Yet, that was only the beginning of the unsustainable spending. The governor and current majority party plunged the state another $1.7 billion dollars into debt without creating sustainable jobs for Iowans that we so desperately need.

Earlier this week, State Treasurer Fitzgerald reported that outstanding debt obligations for all state and local governments in Iowa totaled $11.6 billion as of June 30, 2009. Overall, that growth in debt represents an increase of 6.33% from last year. That number accounts for all the accumulated debt of the state government and agencies, cities, schools, AEAs, regents and community colleges.

Iowans have grown frustrated and angry with the fiscal mismanagement and scandals that have plagued state government. Iowans are hardworking, thrifty and are careful stewards of their money yet the government in Des Moines acts nothing like the people who they are supposed to represent.

Citizens expect their tax dollars to be spent wisely and efficiently and they expect legislators to work hard to make it easier for jobs to be created in every community in the state. It’s never acceptable for public officials to violate the trust of the taxpayers and misspend, waste or misuse their hard earned dollars. Iowans expect and deserve competent fiscal leadership and bold action on creating jobs.

Senate Republicans are united in support of reforming and opening state government. Government has a responsibility to make public how and where it spends taxpayer dollars.

Additionally, Republicans believe government has a responsibility to make certain that information is accurate, easy to understand and delivered regularly. We cannot wait for another CIETC or film office fiasco to occur. Real reform must be done now. Government has become too big, too out of touch and increasingly out of control and it is time for a set of common sense open government initiatives to empower Iowa citizens.

Transparency and accountability are keys to reestablishing citizen trust in government in the wake of so much overspending, mismanagement and scandal. Our “Iowa Taxpayer Transparency Act” will provide Iowans with the tools to evaluate the performance of their local and state governments.

The legislation would create a publicly available database that would be accessible to taxpayers, at no charge, to review annual revenues and expenditures of state and local governments. In addition, our legislation would create a searchable tax rate database that will include the tax rates from every taxing entity, and will contain a geographical tax rate map, as well as an individual tax rate calculator. This feature will provide Iowans with a much-needed tool in learning exactly how they are taxed by state and local governments.

Our transparency and accountability agenda also includes a mandatory sunset of all programs by a date certain unless lawmakers take action to re-establish them and a proposal to finally install an independent accountability division in the Legislative Service Agency to provide an unbiased and non-partisan analysis of all state government programs.

By providing these tools Iowans will have the opportunity to be the final check and balance. Iowa Republicans will provide taxpayers with the necessary tools to hold their local and state officials accountable for the delivery of effective and cost-efficient services.

Last week was Thanksgiving and even during these challenging times, as Iowans we still have much to be thankful for. Though Iowa has its share of problems and questions, I believe Iowa is better positioned to rebound from this malaise. Republicans have been working tirelessly to offer real solutions while standing up for fiscal responsibility, improving our business climate, creating jobs and promoting freedom and liberty.

We know our future doesn’t lie with bigger government that is not as transparent and accountable as the taxpayers deserve. It lies with Iowans who are smart, hard-working, decent, caring and creative – that is our bright future. If we unite around a common purpose and work to protect the freedoms, liberties, principles and opportunities for ourselves and future generations, we can ensure that our best days are ahead of us and finally turn this state around.

Paul McKinley
Senate Republican Leader

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The Iowa Republican

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