The chairman of the Iowa Senate’s tax-writing committee is proposing a constitutional amendment that would require a super majority vote in the legislature to raise the state income tax or the sales tax.
Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs, helped develop the package of tax cuts the governor signed into law this month. Dawson said this proposed constitutional amendment would provide stability in tax policy.
“Politics change over time. How do Iowans make sure that their tax rates aren’t subject to the whims of the populace? So the premise is simple here: it should be a majority to lower the taxes,” Dawson said, “but there should be some type of higher threshold to raise them here in the state of Iowa.”
The proposed amendment would require a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate to raise the two major taxes collected by the State of Iowa. Pam Mackey Taylor, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club’s Iowa chapter, said that would make it “almost impossible” to raise taxes.
“We’re making significant changes to the tax rates with the flat tax bill and it could be that we have made too significant of cuts and we may need to roll some of this back,” Mackey Taylor said during a Senate subcommittee hearing on the proposed amendment. “And it should be easy to roll some of this back, not really difficult with a really high threshold.”
Victoria Sinclair is a lobbyist Iowans for Tax Relief, a group that’s been seeking constitutional limits on state spending for decades. The group also supports this proposal to require a larger majority of legislators to support raising taxes.
“We expect Iowa’s hardworking families to live within their means,” Sinclair said. “If the legislature can’t live within their means and decides they need to take more from Iowa taxpayers, then the threshold should be higher.”
Mike Owen, deputy director of Common Good Iowa, said the proposed 66% super majority for approving future tax increases gives the minority veto power.
“One no vote is worth two yes votes,” Owen said. “Try explaining that in social studies class.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a two-fifths or two-thirds majority is required in the legislatures in 15 states to raise taxes or impose new taxes. If Dawson’s proposal clears every legislative hurdle, the earliest Iowa voters would see a similar proposal for Iowa’s constitution would be in 2024 General Election ballot.