The recently-formed “Coalition for a Better Iowa” is calling on legislators to close “loopholes” which they say let businesses claim millions in unwarranted tax credits. Kelli Soyer, executive director of the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, says that money would be better spent on “vulnerable” children and families.
“With the budget numbers released, we can expect 150 children to wait each month to receive appropriate treatment services,” Soyer says. “Iowa’s children should not have to wait for services to assure they are safe.” According to Soyer, it’s time for state policymakers to take a more “balanced approach” that would include budget cuts along with closing tax loopholes and raising more tax revenue.
“We can no longer place the burden of the recession on the backs of Iowa’s children, elderly and vulnerable adults,” she says. Tom LaPointe, state director of Every Child Matters, says legislators are taking a “wrong-headed” approach in reducing the number of state social workers who respond to allegations of child abuse. He cites a recent report which found an 11 percent increase in the number of reported incidents of child abuse last year.
“Closing a tax loophole or two is the right thing to do, otherwise with this trend line in play, it will have us in the danger zone regarding the protection of Iowa’s children,” LaPointe says. Victor Elias of the Iowa Child and Family Policy Center says if legislators limited the research activities tax credit as a panel of state officials suggested, it would save up to 30-million in direct state payments to businesses.
“We’re not calling for tax increases right now,” Elias says. “I think (the state) can get through this year without increasing taxes. Closing tax loopholes is not a tax increase.” Business groups argue the state benefits from the high-paying research jobs in companies like Rockwell Collins, Pioneer and others that claim the research activities credit.
Elias counters by citing a recent Iowa State University study which he says found while Iowa’s research activities credit is among the nation’s “most generous,” Iowa lags behind most other states in the number of people employed in research.
The “Coalition for a Better Iowa” was formed late last year and it includes the Iowa Federation of Labor, the Iowa State Education Association and the Iowa Citizens Action Network.