A taxpayer watchdog group is chastising Iowa lawmakers for building a bad budget. The Iowa taxpayers Association just finished a review of the legislative session, and president Stacy Johnson says lawmakers approved too many automatic spending increases, like fifty-million dollars a year, for the next 10 years, for the Iowa Values Fund. Johnson says that continues with or without legislative action. She says the group thinks they should have to review it, not let the funding continue for five, ten or fifteen years as an automatic appropriation. “You’re really tying the hands of future legislatures as well,” she adds. Johnson says lawmakers also relied too much on borrowing from special accounts, like the Senior Living Trust Fund. She says they should avoid onetime sources for ongoing expenses, saying that’s the primary one they’re concerned about. “As you use that time-limited revenue source for these ongoing expenditures, eventually that source is going to run out and then you’re going to have this expenditure that you’re going to need to find additional revenues for” Johnson said lawmakers then have to raise taxes or cut programs to make up the shortfall. She says the legislature has reduced its reliance on the Senior Living Trust Fund, which was set up with money the state won in a tobacco settlement, but still uses it to cover Medicaid. The Taxpayers Association also criticized the legislature for failing to fully fund local property-tax credits, which forces local governments to make up the difference or makes homeowners settle for less than they’re entitled to. It may be a point where the legislature takes a look at the property tax credits, and makes a decision whether to keep funding them or do away with them. “We feel that’s bad budgeting,” she says. The Iowa Taxpayers Association advocates for a competitive business tax climate.
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