Saturday, April 12, 2008


$32 million tax increase

Newspapers across the state blared the above headline Thursday morning, as taxes will again be raised in Iowa. That’s right – over $400 million in total tax increases, and counting, so far.

The latest measure would eliminate the local option sales tax for schools, and replace it with a statewide penny sales tax that, for now, is devoted to schools.

Two aspects of this bill are troubling. As we have seen time and time and time again, all too often when the governor and Legislature get their hands on funding, it gets “scooped” for other pet projects, especially in times of economic slowdown.

Second, this tax increase now raises the state’s use tax as well. The use tax is applied when businesses purchase goods from out of the state to use here in Iowa. Businesses often do not pay the sales tax in that state, and instead pay the Iowa use tax, which was exempt from local option sales taxes.

That is, until this bill went on its way.

Republicans offered two amendments that would have protected your tax dollars.

The first amendment would have provided constitutional protection to prevent the sales tax revenue from being scooped, or shifted, for other uses. It also provided that this bill would only take effect upon the ratification of an amendment to the Iowa Constitution to protect all revenues received from the state sales and use tax.

The second amendment would have helped to offset any future property tax increases by stating that if the state’s estimate of general fund revenues exceeds original estimates, the excess revenue would go to the Property Tax Equity and Relief Fund.

Remember – the sole intent of the original local option sales tax was for local residents to approve it themselves, and to only last 10 years.

Now, however, this is a permanent tax on the people of Iowa and a $32 million tax increase on Iowa businesses.

Employ illegal workers? You’re now entitled to free money.

Democrats on Monday voted against taking up an amendment that would have protected Iowa workers by removing taxpayer incentives to employ illegal aliens.

The amendment, H-8383 to SF-2325, states that employers who do not participate in the United States Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify Program are not eligible for taxpayer-funded state developmental assistance.

Developmental assistance is any form of public assistance, including tax expenditures, made for the purpose of stimulating economic development.

The Democrats decided to cast a blind eye toward our illegal immigration problem. Those employers who follow the law should be rewarded accordingly, but to Democrats, it just doesn’t matter.

E-Verify is a free and simple-to-use Web-based system that electronically verifies the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees. The program is a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services oversees the program.

E-Verify works by allowing participating employers to electronically compare employee information taken from the Form I-9 (the paper based employee eligibility verification form used for all new hires) against more than 425 million records in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) database and more than 60 million records in DHS immigration databases. Results are returned within seconds.

The primary goals of the program are to protect jobs, not lose jobs, for authorized U.S. workers and to ensure a legal workforce in the United States. This is a simple tool that would allow Iowa employers to follow the law. Taxpayer assistance should not be granted to employees who violate our laws by employing those who are here illegally.

Democrats say “free money!” regardless of who is working at an organization, and that’s just wrong.

More than 19,000 employers are enrolled in E-Verify nationally and have successfully matched 92 percent of new hires to DHS and SSA database information. Of the remaining 8 percent that were not matched, less than one percent of those employees contested the result.

Stewart Iverson is Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa