Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack has sent legislators a rather dour letter, and some lawmakers say Vilsack’s trying to build a case for a tax increase. In the letter, Vilsack said the budget outline he’ll present lawmakers later this week will not include tax increases, and Vilsack says that means major budget cuts in education, health and safety programs. The bleak budget scenario Vilsack paints includes predictions that nearly four-thousand teachers will be laid off and about three-thousand poor children will not have access to health care. Senate President-elect Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny, says by reading between the lines, it appears the Governor is trying to build some momentum for a tax increase. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says when it comes to the state budget, the sky is not falling. He says the bottom line is the legislators have to do what all Iowans do, live within their means.Republican House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City says if Vilsack wants to raise taxes, he should come out and say so rather than drop hints. Rants says if Vilsack believes taxes should be raised, he needs to “build that case” tomorrow during the Governor’s Condition of the State message. Rants says it’ll be a tough sell to convince Iowans that “they’re not payin’ enough.” Rants says lawmakers should “do no harm” and a tax increase — in his opinion — would do harm.Rants says it would do harm if the state government were to take more money out of the pockets of Iowans and Iowa businesses at a time when the economy’s poised to recover. Democrats in the legislature, meanwhile, are reluctant to say they’d support any tax increase. House Democrat Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque says Republicans who control the legislature’s debate agenda because the G-O-P holds a majority of seats in the House and Senate will not raise taxes. Murphy says tax increases are a “moot issue.” He says Democrats want to guarantee that education funding isn’t cut, and that there are no more tax credits. Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs says Republicans in the Legislature have “creating a rising tide of red ink that is drowning” the budgets of local schools, cities and counties and our public universities.” In an interview last week, Vilsack declined to present any details of his budget outline.
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