The top Democrat in the Iowa House says he is one vote short of being able to pass a massive overhaul of the state’s income tax system. House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, isn’t willing to declare the bill dead for the year, though.
"We do think we can get to 51 votes and pass the bill," Murphy says, "so it’s still a live round."
According to Murphy, he had lined up 52 Democrats to vote for the bill, but two Democrats changed their minds after adjustments sought by the governor broadened the number of Iowans who would get a tax cut — and amounted to a roughly $50 million reduction in the amount of income taxes collected.
"All we need is one person to change their mind," Murphy says. "…We’re still optimistic we’ll get it done before we adjourn."
Murphy is counting on Governor Chet Culver, a fellow Democrat, to help find the extra vote that will get the bill passed.
"We still believe that it is a middle class tax cut," Murphy says. "We still believe it simplifies the tax code and we are optimistic that we will pass it yet this year."
Meanwhile, Iowans for Tax Relief president Ed Failor, Junior, is leading opposition to the plan. His main objection is it will get rid of a tax deduction that lets Iowans deduct their federal income tax bill from their income before they calculate their state income taxes.
"Everything I have understood is they’ve never had so much as 50 (yes votes)," Failor says. "Point is, that’s not 51 and that’s good for Iowa taxpayers."
Failor says the bill is far from "dead" for the year, however.
"Anything can happen," Failor says. "…I would love to see one fo the leaders stand up and say, ‘We won’t do this,’ and I’d be the first person to praise them for their leadership."
Failor’s group calls the Democrats’ proposal a "tax on a tax." Representative Paul Shomshor, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, directly responded to that during a news conference this week.
"Just ’cause somebody comes up with a nifty slogan, I mean, that doesn’t change the facts. You know, somebody who defends that slogan is just defending a complicated tax structure," Shomshor said. "What we’re doing is we’re simplifying the tax system and we’re cutting taxes for middle class Iowans."
A few thousand Iowans rallied on the statehouse grounds today, April 15, the deadline day for filing federal taxes. Few, however, ventured inside the capitol to talk with legislators once the rally was over.