State policymakers now know how much money they’ll have to spend next year. A three-member panel of financial experts met yesterday, and predicted the state will take in nearly four-point-nine billion dollars in taxes in the next budgeting year that begins July 1st. That’s 157-million dollars more than the current budgeting year’s spending. But Jeff Angelo of Creston, the republican co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says it doesn’t really mean the state is flush with cash. Angelo says he’s glad to see the economy’s recovering and he agrees with the assessment, but Angelo says there’s five-hundred-43 million dollars in promised spending increases built-in the budget already, before lawmakers even start working on next year’s budget. A good chunk of that — over 100-million dollars — is money promised for K-through-12 schools. The rest is promised salary increases for state employees and an increase in state spending on the Medicaid program which provides money for the poor and elderly. Angelo predicts there’ll be a move to raise taxes. “I think there’ll be a lot of pressure to raise taxes and with a closely divided legisalture, you can see that there will be probably some alliances made to try to raise some taxes here in Iowa,” Angelo says. Angelo says there are several potential targets of a tax increase. He says the “most attractive” tax to increase is the cigarette tax. “The most attractive increase is always the one that doesn’t apply to you,” Angelo says. Angelo, though, says he hopes the legislature resists raising taxes and instead enacts more cuts in government programs.
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