The Iowa House has passed legislation that would cut individual income tax rates for Iowans by 20%. Representative Erik Helland, a Republican from Johnson, was first to speak during House debate of the proposal.
“For 14 years income taxpayers have gone without tax relief from their state government and for too long, the wants of government have come before the needs of the taxpayer,” Helland said. “This bill challenges that status quo and seeks to make Iowa a more competitive state.”
Representative Tyler Olson, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, called it a “whopper” of a cut that will reduce state income tax collections by over $300 million this year and $700 million next year.
“At the same time, House Republicans claim that we do not have $69.9 million to fund preschool,” Olson said. “I just totally disagree with that priority.”
Representative Mary Gaskill, a Democrat from Ottumwa, said she’s concerned the cut is too deep.
“If we enact this legislation I am very, very fearful that we will be even in worse shape if our economy tanks again,” Gaskill said.
Representative Helland said voters told Republicans during the 2010 campaign that government is too big and takes too much of their money.
“I believe Iowans are going to spend this money and employ more Iowans and put us on the road back to prosperity,” Helland said.
Representative Lisa Heddens, a Democrat from Ames, pointed to Wednesday’s announcement that nearly 240 social workers and other employees in the Department of Human Services will be laid off.
“I am all for doing a tax rate cut, but I think you’ve got to do it responsibly,” Heddens said. “You’ve got to make sure we’ve funded all our priorities first and we have not done that at this time.”
Representative Nick Wagner, a Republican from Marion, replied.
“Remember, we’re here for the taxpayers,” Wagner said. “They should be a priority.”
One Republican said the size of the cut scared “the bejeezus” out of him, but he voted for it as did all the other Republicans who were present and a couple of Democrats. The bill faces an uncertain future in the state senate where Democrats who control the debate agenda are pressing for targeted tax relief to low income Iowans.