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June 19th, 2010

A Real Plan to Clean Up State Government

By Paul McKinley

State government is in need of a clean up!

From the film tax credit and Iowa Association of School Boards scandals, allegations of improper campaign donations received by the governor’s campaign and the misspending of $576,000 by then Secretary of State Culver to billion dollar deficits, job-killing property tax increases, high unemployment and the quintupling of debt under Governor Culver and legislative Democrats – scandals, overspending and rampant fiscal mismanagement have rocked state government.

You deserve better.

The simple truth is that it is never acceptable for public officials to violate the trust of the taxpayers by misspending, wasting or misusing their hard earned dollars. Iowans need and want competent fiscal leadership. We should always expect our tax dollars to be spent wisely and efficiently.

Senate Republicans believe government has a responsibility to make certain that information is accurate, easy to understand and delivered regularly. More transparency and accountability should be the norm – not less. This is why we have offered a broad set of proposals to give taxpayers the tools they need to ensure their dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently.

First, Senate Republicans propose and supported an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to limit state spending to no more than 99 percent of state revenue. Only an amendment to the Iowa Constitution can stop lawmakers from creating record setting budget deficits and searching out loopholes to spend more of your hard earned money. Limiting spending to 99 percent of revenue ensures a balanced budget and the annual deposit of money into a rainy day fund.

Secondly, Senate Republicans propose and supported requiring a two-thirds supermajority vote of both houses of the Legislature to authorize new state borrowing. Never again should one party have the sole authority to create these long-term debt burdens, as Governor Culver and legislative Democrats have done with their failed I-JOBS program. At the local level, a 60 percent vote of the people is required to adopt new public debt (such as a new school) to ensure there is widespread community support. At the state level, a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Legislature will help guarantee the same kind of broad support for similar taxpayer funded efforts.

Next, Senate Republicans propose and supported a systematic process wherein every program funded by state government will be sunset (de-authorized) unless the governor and Legislature reauthorize that program or policy. This important process will force a thorough top-to-bottom review of every existing program funded by your tax dollars to determine whether the program is an effective and efficient use of tax dollars.

Additionally, our goal is to create a publicly available database that would be accessible to taxpayers to review annual revenues and expenditures of state and local governments. It would also create a searchable tax rate database that will include the tax rates from every taxing entity, with maps 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.

We cannot wait for another film office fiasco or another year of vast overspending to occur. Real reform must be done now. Government has become too big, too out of touch and increasingly out of control. It is time for a set of common sense open government initiatives to empower Iowa citizens.

Republicans are working hard to earn the trust of the taxpayers of Iowa and in return, the taxpayers of Iowa should expect fresh leadership and a new direction that focuses on keeping government within its means, giving citizens a greater voice and returning to policies that do not grow the government’s budget at the expense of your family’s.

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The Iowa Republican





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