In five days, Iowa voters decide whether Iowa’s constitution should have twonew amendments.The two amendments deal with state legislators’ taxing and spendingauthority. One amendment would require a 60 percent vote in the Iowa Houseand the Senate to pass increases in the state income, sales or use tax. The other amendment deals with state spending. It would restrict the statebudget to 99 percent of tax collections AND it would require the remainderbe set aside in a “rainy day” account for emergencies. That secondamendment would force the state’s books be kept according to today’s”generally accepted accounting principles.” State government is alreadyoperating under those spending limits, which were written into state LAW backin 1992. Ex-Senator Larry Murphy, a democrat from Oelwein, helped authorthat law. Murphy says since the law’s been on the books, legislators havespent between 94 and 98 percent of state tax collections — and socked therest away in the special savings account. He says a culture has been createdin the legisalture so that no one wants to be the first to break thelimitation.However, the ex-legislator says there’s no reason to put the spendinglimitation LAW into the constitution, as it’s too specific, particularly incalling for keeping the books by generally accepted accounting principles.Murphy says there’s also a fear of how the courts will rule on issues likehow legislators may spend the money in the special “emergency” accounts.Editors Note: This is the first in a series of reports on the upcomingvote. Tomorrow Radio Iowa will review the arguments of supporters andopponents. On Monday, the review will focus on states which have tax andexpenditure limitations. On Tuesday, the special report will focus on voterturn-out and the rarity of a special election to amend Iowa’s constitution.
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