Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, says now is not the time to raise taxes — and he’s hinting the only way those who want to raise the state’s gas tax will get their way is to have the legislature override his veto of just such a proposal.
"Just because I have a particular position on any issue doesn’t mean 150 legislators might feel differently," Culver says. At least 34 members of the Iowa Senate and 67 members of the Iowa House must vote "yes" in order to override a governor’s veto and it rarely occurs in Iowa.
Culver is this weekend’s guest on the Iowa Public Television show, "Iowa Press," and during this morning’s taping of the program Culver outlined his opposition, at this time, to tax increases in general.
"Most economists will tell you that raising taxes should not be part of the equation when you’re in a recession," Culver said. "…Tax increases should be the last resort and so I’ve taken them off the table for now. We’ve got to get out of this recession. We have to put more money in the pockets of Iowa families and Iowa businesses that desperately need it. We don’t have to take it out of their pockets with a tax increase."
On Thursday the governor ordered a one-and-a-half percent, across-the-board cut in state spending for the current budgeting year. According to Culver, the "crisis is real" and Iowa isn’t alone in these kind of problems.
"Last year, for example, at this time there were 15 states in the country that were having some economic and budget challenges. Today there are 43. Those 43 states are collectively are looking at a $60 billion deficit just for fiscal year ’09," Culver said. "So this downward spiral has effected Iowa and other states a lot sooner than anyone expected."
Culver said he’s considering all sorts of options, big and small, including merging some state agencies or shutting down some state offices to save on utility bills.