The standoff continues in the Iowa Senate over legislation that deals with using sales tax revenue for school building maintenance and construction. A bill that makes the one percent sales tax passed in each of Iowa’s 99 counties permanent through 2029, with the money distributed on a per pupil basis, has been declared dead by the top Democrat in the Senate because there aren’t enough Republicans supporting it.
Republican Senators this morning said they’d back something else, a plan that would not make the one-percent sales tax permanent and it calls for a constitutional amendment to ensure any local option sales tax money goes for school infrastructure.
Senator Jeff Angelo, a Republican from Creston, says: "That actually addresses the concerns that local constituents have expressed to us. It protects students and taxpayers." The Iowa House gave overwhelming, bipartisan approval to the plan the Senate Republicans are criticizing.
Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown, says that plan is flawed because it makes the one-percent sales tax permanent statewide, with a promise that some of the proceeds will be used for property tax relief. "You don’t raise a tax to decrease a tax," McKibben says.
Democrats have no intention of accepting the alternative Republicans outlined today and McKibben says he and other Republicans in the Iowa Senate aren’t going to capitulate and accept the other plan that’s cleared the House on a bipartisan vote. "Yeah, we’re getting a lot of calls from superintendents and school board members, but we’re not getting calls from grassroots people and we’re certainly not getting calls from small businesses," McKibben says.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says Senate Republicans are blocking an "historic effort to repair and replace Iowa’s crumbling school buildings and what would be the largest single property tax relief legislation in the history of our state." Gronstal calls it "election-year posturing" on the part of Senate Republicans.