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Issue Position: Unfunded Mandates: Why they are driving up our property taxes and how they can be stopped

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

One of the reasons I decided to run for office is my belief that we need to move beyond the political talking points that we have all gotten too used to hearing, and get to offering real solutions to solve our fiscal problems. What I plan to do as your Representative is to take action by offering concrete, common-sense proposals to deal with the many issues facing our community. The following is an example of a specific bill I will introduce in my first days on the job and the impact it will have on lowering your tax burden.

From my 38 years in private sector business I can tell you first hand that controlling the cost and scope of government is the single best way to revive our economy and to create great jobs.

I wish controlling overspending at the State House was as easy as just talking about it, but unfortunately that is not going to get the job done. Among the biggest cost drivers we face in Iowa today are unfunded mandates, and as such putting an end to them is one of the major pillars of my campaign.

Unfunded mandates are the hundreds of rules and regulations that our State Legislature pass at the Capitol and then hand down to our local cities, counties, and townships to enforce. In some cases these rules and regulations are completely legitimate, the problem however is that no money is provided in the State budget to the local governments for putting them in place. Examples of unfunded mandates here in Iowa range from the Green Clean Bill signed in 2010 by then Gov. Culver, all the way to regulating how counties must maintain their gravel roads.

The cost of unfunded mandates is paid by our local governments, who then pass this cost on to us by raising our property taxes. Realizing the impact this was having on Iowa communities, lawmakers in the mid 1990's attempted to stop this practice by adding Chapter 25B to the Iowa code. Unfortunately this has not worked as legislators have found ways around the rule, sometimes creatively and sometimes by bluntly "notwithstanding" this code section in legislation.

The good news is that for two reasons, I believe this a problem that can be solved in short order. The first is that since the Iowa Code already bans unfunded mandates, the legislative work that needs to be done is simply closing the loopholes that have allowed this cost-shifting to continue. The second is that this is a bi-partisan issue. The following is just a short list of organizations whose legislative priorities include stopping unfunded mandates: The Iowa Association of Counties, The Iowa League of Cities, The Urban Action Network, The Iowa Association of School Boards, and the Iowa Association of Christian Schools. With groups as diverse as this, and a determined focus from inside the Legislature, we can achieve the goal of responsibly paying for all the bills that we pass.

In order to make this a reality, I will introduce a bill to committee at the beginning of the session to ban the loopholes that have allowed unfunded mandates to remain in the laws that are passed. Doing so will ensure that the Legislature will have to carefully consider the cost attached to every action they take. This seemingly small step will have a major impact on the decision making process at the State House--and on your property tax bill.

My view will always be that if an issue is important enough to pass a law on it--than it is important enough to pay for it without passing along the cost and raising other taxes and fees.

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