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April 2nd, 2009

Rants: Is Culver the 6th D to say “No”?

chrisrantsI think that Governor Chet Culver may be the 6th D to say “No” to raising taxes on Iowans.

We know for a fact that HF 807, the tax increase bill isn’t coming up for debate today. The rest of this is speculation on my part but consider the following:

First: Culver may have inherited more than his father’s temper, but a genetically superior sense of which way the winds are blowing. Culver has said all along he isn’t going to raise taxes. None of us Republicans really believe that – but he keeps saying it.

Second: Consider the article in yesterday’s Register:

The governor stopped short of endorsing a plan advancing in the Iowa House to eliminate the ability of Iowans to deduct their federal income tax from their state filing. Culver said he supported the provision, but as part of a package that Ultimately reduces or holds even income taxes on a large majority of Iowans.

“What I’ve said before is I support eliminating federal deductibility as long as it’s revenue neutral. How you get there is the fair question. I’m working with legislators on different options in terms of who this would impact,” Culver told reporters.

“Obviously, I’d love to give a major income tax break — that’s my goal, to do this in such a way where most Iowans would either see no change or they would receive a tax cut,” he added.

We know for a fact that what Culver is talking about is NOT what HF 807 will do. HF 807 IS a tax increase.

Third: Consider Culver’s comments in today’s Register:

Gov. Chet Culver corrected himself Wednesday after arguing that details of a controversial tax bill weren’t available because there had been no legislation filed.

“Well, the bill hasn’t even been filed formally, so we don’t even know what it’s going to look like,” Culver told reporters after attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a wind-energy manufacturer in Story City.

Culver was responding to questions about whether he would support legislation to eliminate Iowans’ ability to deduct what they pay in federal taxes on their state tax returns. He then repeated twice during the brief news conference that there was no bill.

But a bill, House File 807, had cleared the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, setting up Tuesday’s public hearing at the Iowa Capitol. A companion bill also was moving in the Senate.

Culver later stepped back from his comments, but maintained his original point that it was unclear what the final legislation would include.

“I guess my point is (the bill) is simply the beginning. That’s just a vehicle. It is very likely to be significantly different. I’m more focused on trying to figure out the best public policy,” Culver said in a Des Moines Register interview.

“There likely will be amendments and significant changes to that first draft, or that first bill,” Culver continued. “I don’t think people should get too worked up about the first draft, essentially.”

Now, once you get past laughing about the fact that Culver didn’t know there was a bill – remember, I said he inherited his fathers temper and political skills, not his intellect – notice that he is stepping away from what is in HF 807. He is sending the signal that the bill needs to be changed.

Conclusion: I think that what happened last year is happening again. House and Senate Democrat leaders learned the hard way last year when he vetoed their Chapter 20 overhaul, that if the Governor isn’t on board, it can be a little embarrassing. A concept is described – “tax the rich and give to the poor”, just like last year House and Senate leaders said “give bullet proof vests to cops” on the Chapter 20 bill. Only once the Governor actually sees the language and learns the details, albeit a little late, his political instincts kick in and he says, “wait just a minute.”

Seriously. Culver is making some just awful decisions on the budget. To a certain extent, he has no choice. Core constituencies of his are going to take a beating. Does he really want to toss a massive tax increase on top of hard working middle class Iowans?

Again, he may be a little late to the party, but the Big Lug may have discovered that its not a very good party to be at, and what is being served neither tastes great, nor is it less filling. And for once, he doesn’t want any of that.

Written By State Representative Christopher Rants

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The Iowa Republican

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