Iowa Politics is at the front of a new weekly program being hosted by my friend Kevin HallÂ (columnistÂ at The Iowa Republican) and yours truly. Â The program is at Webcast One LiveÂ and is called “The Iowa Legislative Hour”. Â It is live on Thursdays from around 4:00 (ish) to 5:00 (ish). Â The “ish” is because there is probably a 5-10 minute delay in starting since the prior show ends at 4:00 and we have to get in and situated. Â The show will also be available for playback… here’s a link to last week’s inaugural show.
State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale is graciously joining us each week, and we expect regular visits with State Senator Jack Whitver of Ankeny and State Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa. Â We try to cover issues currently before the Iowa Legislature, as well as other issues of political relevance in Iowa.
Today’s show has been CANCELLED due to the wonderful pre-Spring weather that is on its way to Des Moines. Â We will be back on the air next Thursday, and expect to be there each week throughout the session. Â I hope you’ll check out the show, and perhaps call in with questions.
Special thanks to J. Michael “Mac” McKoy and the team at Webcast One Live for making this show possible! Â This team is very professional and top notch!
Below is a brief overview ofÂ a bi-partisan initiative that is set to be brought to the floor of the Iowa LegislatureÂ when it gavels in next session.Â Once it is brought to the floor I will publish a more detailed look at it.Â As noted on Wednesday, Sen. Brad Zaun, Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, and Rep. Kevin Koester have already signed on to support the measure and it will be interesting to see the reaction from both sides once the session starts.
The Every Iowan Economic Empowerment Act or The Empowerment Act takes advantage of our stateâ€™s strengths in two ways.
I.Â Rewarding Hard Work & Sacrifice Provision
The first component of The Empowerment Act rewards the hard work and sacrifice of Iowans by eliminating taxation on overtime.
A.Â If an Iowan works an hourly or hourly jobs, after 40 hours state taxation ends. No hour worked over 40 hours is taxed whether that time is accrued at one job or a second or third job.
B.Â If an Iowan works a salaried position that consists of at least 40 hours per week as their primary job but works a second job that is either hourly or salaried that secondary employment will not be taxed by the state.
C.Â In a state with the highest per capita number of two working parent households, this rewards their sacrifice by allowing them as a household to keep more of the money they earn or allows one of the two to work less hours while the household brings home the same size weekly paycheck.
II.Â Capitalism & Working Class Iowa Empowerment Provision
The second component of The Empowerment Act returns to Iowans the ability to invest in and rebuild their communities while savaging rampant cronyism found in state and local gifting politics.
A.Â 5% Charitable Provision Each working Iowan gets 5% rebated from their individual state income tax bill and they can designate the non-profit organization or organizations of their choice to receive those funds.
B.Â 10% Rural Revitalization Provision Each working Iowan gets 10% rebated from their individual state income tax bill and they can designate the rural enterprise or enterprises of their choice to receive those funds.
C.Â 15% Entrepreneurship & Capitalist Empowerment Provision Each working Iowan gets 15% rebated from their individual state income tax bill and they can invest in any Iowa based business venture.
1.Â Potential recipients for investment sign up as state vendors and provide relevant information such as their EIN, business organization charter, and banking information.
2.Â At tax refund time the state wires invested funds to the appropriate vendor not the taxpayer.
3.Â The taxpayer is responsible for vetting the investee and any collaborative efforts.
4.Â Demonstrable fraud is prosecuted as it would be under our current code.
Especially after the last two years of bitter political fighting in Iowa, when you hear an initiative is being co-championed by Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, Brad Zaun and Kevin Koester–you take note.
Below is the full press release announcing this effort.Â Though we are closing down shop tomorrow for Thanksgiving, on Friday we will run a detailed look at the legislation so you can form your own thoughts on its merits.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Rev. Bobby Young, President
515-491-0905; [email protected]
Jonathan R. Narcisse, Advisor
515-770-1218; [email protected]
Â Iowa Urban Initiative To Announce Economic Empowerment Act
On Wednesday, November 21 at 8:15 a.m. at Mt. Hebron Baptist Church, 1338 – 9th Street in Des Moines, the Iowa Urban Initiative will announce the Every Working Iowa Economic Empowerment Act or Empowerment Act campaign.
In addition to Pastor Bobby Young, President of the Initiative, a bi-partisan legislative effort will be headed by Sen. Brad Zaun (Rep.) of Urbandale who signed on to the effort this spring at an informational gathering for community leadership, Ast. Minority Leader Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad (Dem.) of Des Moines, Rep. Deborah Berry (Dem.) from Waterloo and Rep. Kevin Koester (Rep.) from Ankeny.
Other local and state activist are expected to be present also representing the political spectrum from those who were engaged in the Occupy movement to Tea Party leadership.
Representatives Abdul-Samad and Berry will take the lead in promoting the Act statewide. Town Hall Forums will be held in Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City and a barnstorming media blitz will cover several communities throughout Iowa including Clinton, Dubuque, Burlington, Fairfield, Iowa City,Â Ottumwa, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ft. Dodge, Spencer, Council Bluffs, Ames, Storm Lake and Lee County.
Senator Zaun To Head G.O.P. Support
“The reason I am here today is to support an idea that is thinking outside the box. What we have been doing the past few decades has not been working. This is a method to empower every working Iowan – to reward people for their hardÂ work and sacrifice; to reward Iowans by creating a way for them to invest back in their communities; to invest in their favorite non-profits; to invest in their churches and favorite organizations; to invest in rebuilding our small towns and rural Iowa; and to invest in small business and economic growth – in all 99 counties. This act will create accountability and take control from politicians and bureaucrats and put it back in the hands of the people where it belongs.”
With those words State Senator Brad Zaun (R) embraced Pastor Bobby Young, Chair of the Iowa Urban Initiative in announcing his support for the Every Working Iowan Economic Empowerment Act this spring.
Zaun stated that this Act represents not only the best of what Republicans stand for but a key to growing Iowa’s economy and population after years of decline. He especially praised the Acts shift from reliance on big government as the solution to returning power, hope and opportunity to every working Iowan.
Sen. Zaun,Â one of Central Iowa’s most popular and respected Republicans, was the party’s nominee for U.S. House District 3 in 2010 and is the former ranking member on the Iowa Senate’s Ways and Means committee. Zaun currently serves on the Senate’s Commerce, Rules and Administration, Transportation and Ways and Means committees and came to the Senate in 2005 after serving as Mayor of Urbandale, Iowa from 1998 to 2005.
A District In Need
“I feel this is the first step to addressing the economic needs of community – urban and rural. It gives people the opportunities to become self-sufficient and determine their own economic destiny,” stated Rep. Berry.
Berry, a former member of the Waterloo City Council, serves perhaps Iowa’s most urban district when poverty, academic woes, health disparities and rampant violence are factored in.
“Most Iowans, including our legislators and governor, can even comprehend the dire condition of this district and the plight of urban Iowans. This Act is a powerful remedy to the pain and needs we face.”
She currently serves on the Iowa House Local Government, Public Safety, Veterans Affairs committees and the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
We Can End Poverty
“For most of my life schemes have been introduced to revitalize urban Des Moines and urban Iowa. In Des Moines we do not see the impact of a quarter billion in federal funds on a still blighted “Model Cities” community. We do not see the benefit of trickle down economics. What we find instead is that 70% of the families with children in the Des Moines School District, our state’s largest, can not feed them without the government putting food on their table,” stated Rep. Abdul-Samad.
“This Act is vital on a number of levels,” stated Rep. Abdul-Samad whose district is in comparable shape to Rep. Berry’s.
“First it grows the Iowa economy from the ground up. Again, trickle down economics has not worked in our state. It helps small businesses with workers and capital. It helps working families retain and invest their earnings. And, it provides vital resources to those serving communities in all 99 counties; to key rural revitalization initiatives and to business ventures at every level. Finally, this Act has the potential to end poverty in Iowa. Republicans and Democrats must join together in getting this legislation passed and starting the reconstruction of our state.
Addition of Rep. Koester
“We are honored to have Rep. Koester join this effort,” stated President Young. Many Iowans are suffering. Urban Iowans are especially struggling. The addition of Rep. Koester demonstrates that this truly is a bi-partisan initiative that will help Iowans in all 99 counties. We look forward to securing the 51 votes in the House and the 26 votes in the Senate to get this to the governor’s desk,” stated President Young.
The year was 2010.Â In Iowa, like in the rest of the Country, a reaction to the obscene growth in size and spending at all levels of government boiled into a loud and visible public movement.Â The internet was a buzz, local Tea Party chapters were springing up, and the Iowa Capitol was the site of several well attended rallies expressing the sentiment of less government and lower taxes.Â Two years later, it is time to ask the questionâ€”what results have come of this?
The short answer at the state level here in Iowa isâ€”not too much so far.
Most will argue that more patience is requiredâ€”and they are right.Â Many will cite a variety of reasons that explain the lack of great actionâ€”some valid points to be sure.Â Meanwhile, the more optimistic in the movement will point to some victoriesâ€”and I grant that they have a case.
All this considered, it is hard not to be disappointed with the lack of impact Tea Party ideals have had on Iowaâ€™s legislative process.Â Letâ€™s take a brief look at the landscape.
Victories So FarÂ
Probably the biggest achievement Republicans at the State House can point to is drastically slowing the pace of growth in the annual budget.Â It would likely shock most Iowans to know that the total appropriations made by our legislature in the year 2002 was $4.375 billion dollars, less than a decade later (FY 2011) the amount spent had jumped to $5.8 billion, an indefensible increase of 33% in less than a decade.Â Though slightly more money has been spent in each of the last few years, getting a handle on this expansion was not necessarily a given, and for this kudos are well deserved.
The problem here of course is baseline budgeting.Â The ridiculous increases seen from 2002-2011 have now been built into future budgetsâ€”with next yearâ€™s expenditure and all projected future years being amounts in excess of $6 billion per year.Â The reality is that Iowans, of either political party, who are holding their breath for a significant decrease in their taxes can expect two thingsâ€”a blue-ish hue followed by a funeral.Â The simple fact is that while future tax hikes can be avoided, as long as the legislature is spending over $6 billion a yearâ€”your taxes are not significantly going down.
Other victories that can be pointed to will be met by fiscal purists with justifiable skepticism, the formation of the Property Tax Relief Fund and 0% allowable growth for education in 2012.Â Time will tell, but the Property Tax Relief Fund may end up being yet another technocratic â€œvictoryâ€ in the legislative shell game.Â I may be wrong, but I can tell you from experience that digging down into the details of many proposed reforms and tax cuts often end up being more of an exercise in moving money around than anything else.Â In terms of the achievement of 0% allowable growth, this was gained in exchange for 2% growth in 2013 and could be completely erased if an already proposed 4% growth rate in 2014 is green lighted.Â For the record, approving a 4% increase in education spending would directly cost taxpayers another $196.2 million.
There are many factors that account for this lack of action, and they make it blatantly unfair to directly blame our fiscally Conservative legislators for not achieving sweeping change.
Chief among these is the narrow, but iron fisted, control spend-happy Democrats have in the Iowa Senate.Â Pragmatically speaking, one could argue it doesnâ€™t make much sense to propose large initiatives that are effectively dead on arrival in the Senate.Â In addition to this it is hard to get movement in these areas when one of the major players, the governor, is not fully on board.Â Letâ€™s face it, while he is undoubtedly a strong Republicanâ€”he isnâ€™t exactly going to be caffeinating any bodies of water under the cover of darkness any time soon.
Realistically the most valid reason is the predetermined circumstances surrounding this session.Â All the oxygen is being consumed by the massively involved efforts left over from last session, which include preventing built-in tax increases, re-structuring mental health services, and a flailing attempt at education reform.Â A final thing that deserves mention is that they have been put on defense by having to block a continuing parade of costly bills introduced by the Democrats most Liberal wing.Â Stay tuned as The Conservative Reader: Iowa will be posting an analysis of these proposals in the near future.
Some Boldness Would Suffice
I think that most Tea Party supporters in Iowa have, so far, looked at the variety of factors in play and given a pass to the fiscal-hawk wing of our legislature.Â Most of us are reasonable in our expectations and we realize that big political results are hard to come by.Â That being said, the time to at least start articulating a vision and making the case that real tax cuts will only follow real spending cuts is at hand.Â At this point we are not even demanding deliverablesâ€”even some boldness would suffice.
An example of this boldness has been displayed recently by Sen. Brad Zaun, and everyone in the movement should take the time to drop him a note of moral support.Â Knowing that it would not even survive funnel week, Sen. Zaun proposed a bold bill that contains a future vision of education in Iowa that is worth fighting for.Â Directly following this session other Tea Party leaning members would be wise to start following suit.Â It is their job to start constructing an agenda and a platform that can eventually cut taxes by cutting spending.
So, has the Tea Party Movement in Iowa crested?
While it is fair to reserve final judgment on this, the lack of real legislative results proves at the minimum it has receded.Â As of right now the Tea Party trajectory in Iowa closely resembles the illegal immigration outrage that came to a National boil in early 2008â€”a huge movement that has delivered small victories along the way before largely fading.
After providing the weight for the water displacement which created the wave in 2010, many fiscally concerned Iowans are standing on the shore in 2012 with only soggy ankles.Â I suspect that the political energy needed to make the case statewide forÂ smaller governmentÂ is still readily available.Â What is needed at this point is a tightly formed caucus with a vision supported by pieces of actual legislation.
Without brave and principled leadership this movement cannot be sustainedâ€¦we will be watching.
The following was released by the Polk County Republican Party:
The Polk County Republican Party commissioned a poll in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District that shows Republican Brad Zaun leading by 7.3% points in a head to head match-up with incumbent Leonard Boswell.
“These numbers are very encouraging for Senator Zaun and Republicans across the board. Â It is clear voters in central Iowa are looking for new, principled leadership,” said Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa Matt Strawn.
Other highlights in the survey include:
- Zaun beats Boswell in Polk County, 46.5% to 38.4%
- Among Independent voters, Zaun again leads Boswell, 41.3% to 31.7%
- Boswell hard re-elect is only at 24.7% with a total re-elect of 34%, but 51.3% of voters say it’s time for a new person
- 25.4% of Democrats say it’s ‘definitely time’ for a new person
- Zaun earns support from 26.2% of Democrats
“Polk County Republicans are more organized and energized than ever before.Â These numbers confirm what we’re seeing on the ground.Â Â We’re going to do our part to support candidates like Brad Zaun both financially and organizationally and help them to victory in November,” concludedÂ Chairman of the Polk County Republican Party John Bloom.
The survey consisted of 300 likely general election voters and has a margin of error of +/- 5.6%.Â Â The 300 completes were comprised of 21% independent voters, 42% Democrats and 37% Republicans with 66% of the respondents being from Polk and the rest geographically proportioned from the remainder of the 3rd District.Â The survey was conducted by Victory Enterprises out of Davenport, Iowa.