A key legislator says the governor’s willingness to consider using local option sales taxes for teacher salaries may have killed an important bill. The bill would establish a statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure projects, an extension of the 99 county local option sales taxes that exist today.
Governor Culver met this morning with members of the state teachers union and he was asked if that local option sales tax money could be used for teacher pay. Culver said he was "open" to the idea. Representative Roger Wendt, a Democrat from Sioux City, is chairman of the House Education Committee.
"I’m not going to fight with the governor here, but they asked me the same thing and I replied: ‘No,’" Wendt says. According to Wendt, the sales tax money in question should be used on school infrastructure and none of it should go to teacher salaries.
"We have to decide and have to convince people that we’re not open to that," Wendt says. Wendt says the whole idea of a statewide sales tax for school infrastructure is to get the money distributed on a per pupil basis to help property-poor districts spruce up or construct new school buildings. In Iowa, it is mainly property taxes which are used to finance school construction projects.