Republican candidate for Governor Doug Gross says Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack shouldn’t be claiming he’s managed the state’s budget crisis without raising taxes. Gross says while no state taxes were raised, local property taxes are going up because of cuts in the state budget. He says the problem is the budget’s been mismanaged and that’s led to some Iowans taking a property tax hit, while the state employees that aren’t laid off or furloughed are getting double-digit salary increases. He says counties are passing the cuts in tax credits on to Iowans in their tax statements.Vilsack aides say state taxes have been cut by over 400-million dollars during his tenure, and they point out state taxes were raised during Gross’ tenure as Governor Terry Branstad’s Chief of Staff. Gross says Vilsack should have re-organized state agencies and taken other steps to ensure state budget cuts didn’t end up forcing the hand of local officials, who’re raising property taxes in response. He says Vilsack has ignored the problem or presided over substantial property tax increases for people who can’t afford the increase. Gross says Vilsack started talking about reorganizing state government, but didn’t follow through. Gross says some of the operating units of the state need to be combined to cut costs.But Vilsack aides say the Department of Human Services, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources were reorganized, and many middle managers were let go. In addition, Vilsack’s proposal to merge five administrative agencies into one was never debated by the Republican-led Legislature. Vilsack also proposed using money from the state road construction account to cover the property tax credits, something Republicans rejected and opted for cuts instead.
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