A proposal backed by influential rural and urban groups faces an uphill battle in the Legislature. The Iowa Farm Bureau and the state’s largest school districts hope to convince lawmakers to enact a statewide sales tax for school improvements. Nineteen counties already collect a one-cent sales tax for school building projects. Rural schools argue they’re being shortchanged because they can’t generate enough “local option” sales taxes to refurbish old or build new schools, and they’ve threatened a lawsuit. Larry McKibben, a republican from Marshalltown who’s chairman of the Senate’s tax policy committee, has concerns about the proposal. McKibben’s worried about raising a tax during a recession and wonders whether it’d ease property taxes. He also says sales taxes are a regressive tax on the low and middle-income. Representative Don Shoultz, a democrat from Waterloo, says the proposal’s a “non-starter.” McKibben and Shoultz made their comments on Iowa Public Television. The 19 counties which have local option sales taxes for schools are Dickinson, Emmet, Winneshiek, Woodbury, Webster, Black Hawk, Monona, Shelby, Polk, Mahaska, Montgomery, Fremont, Page, Lee, Des Moines, Muscatine, Scott, Clinton and Jones. Other counties collect a local option sales tax, but use it for other purposes.
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