Governor Tom Vilsack pushed his budget proposal to county officials today and scolded the media and legislators who call his plans a tax increase. The democrat governor proposed in his Condition of the State Address Tuesday, raising the cigarette tax and adding more services to sales tax, while eventually lowering the sales tax rate.He says even with the raising of the cigarette tax, and the “expansion” of the sales tax, he says when you lower the sales tax, the net over time is you save taxes rather than raise taxes. He says it’s not really a raising of taxes over time, it’s creating a bridge to additional revenues in difficult times and strengthening the economy for better times.Speaking to a meeting of the Iowa Association of Counties, Vilsack told the county officials to hear the opposite of what he’s saying from legislators. He guaranteed them that the legislators will say it’s a tax increase, but Vilsack says it’s not. Vilsack also criticized legislators for passing a bill that would limit the amount of money available to spend on the state budget to 98-percent of the budget estimates.He says currently the rate is 99-percent and he says the impact of the bill will be a 50-million dollar cut to education, health care and local government support. He says that’s the first bill the legislature passed. Vilsack says it shows the legislators aren’t in tune with the problems facing local government officials. Vilsack told the officials they need to get the people in their counties to call their legislators and voice their concern.He says “you gotta get citizens engaged in this” as he says if they don’t legislators are going to continue passing legislation “that makes it more difficult to fund the services that people demand and need, more difficult to support the quality of life that’s important to this state, more difficult to transform the state so we have an economy that better supports our values. Vilsack says if county officials don’t get people involved in talking to legislators, the only people legislators will hear from are the many lobbyists at the capitol.Vilsack asked, “And who do you think they work for? They don’t work for you. They don’t work for constituents. They work for special interests who really want to protect their own little piece of the world.”
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