Opinions

News the Watchdog is Watching…Iowans for Tax Relief budget savings measures included in Iowa House budget cutting bill.

Posted on January 4, 2011

On Monday, January 10th, the 2011 Session of the Iowa Legislature will convene with new leadership in the Iowa House.  The House Republicans, the new majority party in the Iowa House, released the first bill which will be debated; a substantial budget cutting bill titled The Taxpayers First Act.  The bill draft, which is available online, is expected to save Iowa taxpayers $481 million over the next three years.

News the Watchdog is Watching…State tax collections increasing.

Posted on December 30, 2010

This week, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency reported the twelve-month total tax collections for the State of Iowa.  The memo, which is available online here, states the following: 

Iowa Department of Revenue releases the 2010 Annual Report.

Posted on December 27, 2010

For each State Fiscal Year, the Iowa Department of Revenue produces an annual report on the tax collections and other revenue sources which are administered by the Department. For State Fiscal Year 2010, the Iowa Department of Revenue collected $6,667,024,678 from Iowa taxpayers.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Monthly Iowa unemployment figures released.

Posted on December 20, 2010

The Iowa Department of Workforce Development has released the Iowa Employment Situation figures for the month of November 2010.  The Iowa unemployment rate dropped slightly during the month of November, increasing the number of Iowans in the workforce to 1,564,100.  The Iowa unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent to 6.6%, meaning there are 110,500 Iowans who are out of work.  The October 2010 unemployment rate was 6.7% with 111,800 unemployed Iowans.

News the Watchdog is Watching…State and local government debt climbing higher in Iowa.

Posted on December 16, 2010

A recent report released by the Treasurer of the State of Iowa shows combined state and local government debt in Iowa has increased to a total of $12.9 billion, which is an 11.24% increase from last year.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Smaller state government in Iowa expected.

Posted on December 13, 2010

As the start of the 2011 Legislative Session nears, Statehouse Leaders continue to outline priority issues.  This week House Speaker-elect, Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) addressed shrinking the state budget.  Among the state spending reductions, Speaker-elect Paulsen anticipates ending the Iowa Power Fund and the Grow Iowa Values Fund, as well as trimming the number of state government agencies.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Panel estimates Iowa tax collections to increase; state spending reductions expected.

Posted on December 7, 2010

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), a three-member state panel which predicts the estimated amount of tax collections which will be received by the State of Iowa, met Monday, December 6.  The panel estimates state coffers will collect $5,791.6 billion, which is an increase of $34.1 million for the current budget, Fiscal Year 2011.

News the Watchdog is Watching…State employee pay agreement needs revisions.

Posted on December 1, 2010

Last month, Governor Culver hastily committed Iowa taxpayers to a new two-year pay agreement with the state's largest employee union.  The agreement will allow for pay increases up to fifteen-percent for state government workers over the next two years and will cost Iowans as much as $200 million.  This week, Governor-elect Branstad has stated when he takes office in January he would like to reopen the union negotiations on this contract to make revisions, including a possible pay freeze.

Information on Iowa Taxes and Fees Available Online.

Posted on November 29, 2010

Do you want to know how the State of Iowa collects your tax dollars?  For taxes administered by the State of Iowa, the Iowa Tax / Fee Descriptions and Rates is available online through the Iowa Department of Revenue.  Click here to see the Iowa Tax / Fee Descriptions and Rates.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on November 25, 2010

"Today we have more to be thankful for than our pilgrim mothers and fathers who huddled on the edge of the New World that first Thanksgiving Day could ever dream. We should be grateful not only for our blessings, but for the courage and strength of our ancestors which enable us to enjoy the lives we do today." 

- President Ronald Reagan, 1982 Thanksgiving Proclamation 4979.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Iowans for Tax Relief President Ed Failor, Jr. on Macs World Live; podcast online.

Posted on November 23, 2010

Iowans for Tax Relief President, Ed Failor, Jr. sat down with J. Michael McKoy of Macs World Live and discussed the impact of the November 2, 2010 Election on Iowa and the Nation.

News the Watchdog is Watching…New report: low-tax states see more growth than high-tax states.

Posted on November 18, 2010

A recent report from the national Americans for Tax Reform shows population growth is faster in low-tax states across the U.S.  The study focuses on high-tax states losing Congressional seats compared with low-tax states likely to see an increase of seats in Congress when reapportionment begins in 2011.  The growth is due to an increase in population in the low-tax states.

News the Watchdog is Watching…State spending reductions ahead for 2011 Legislative Session.

Posted on November 16, 2010

The 2011 Legislative Session of Iowa Legislature starts January 10, 2011.  Leaders in the Statehouse are beginning to lay out priorities for next year, and last week House Republicans announced they plan to make cuts in the state budget for the current year. 

News the Watchdog is Watching…State Treasurer’s Office report: $207 million in unclaimed property.

Posted on November 12, 2010

Each year, unclaimed property such as cash, stocks, and other property is turned over to the Office of the Iowa Treasurer.  The unclaimed property is from financial institutions, utility companies, and others as lost or abandoned because the institution has been unable to return the property to the owner.

Information on Iowa Taxes and Fees Available Online.

Posted on November 9, 2010

Do you want to know how the State of Iowa collects your tax dollars?  For taxes administered by the State of Iowa, the Iowa Tax / Fee Descriptions and Rates is available online through the Iowa Department of Revenue.  Click here to see the Iowa Tax / Fee Descriptions and Rates.

Iowa Election Day 2010 Results

Posted on November 3, 2010

The unofficial results of the November 2, 2010 election are available online.  Click here  to see the unofficial results for Iowa.

Today is Election Day!

Posted on November 2, 2010

Today is Election Day; please take the time to vote!  This election is critical to the direction of our great state.  The polls are open from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm.  If you are unsure of where you vote, you can look up your polling location online here.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Monthly Iowa unemployment figures released.

Posted on October 29, 2010

The Iowa Department of Workforce Development has released the Iowa Employment Situation figures for the month of September 2010. The Iowa Department of Workforce Development has released the Iowa Employment Situation figures for the month of September 2010. 

News the Watchdog is Watching…Iowans for Tax Relief President and Vice President on Macs World Live; podcast online.

Posted on October 22, 2010

Iowans for Tax Relief President, Ed Failor, Jr. and Vice President, Katie Koberg sat down with J. Michael McKoy of Macs World Live and discussed the ITR mission, Iowa taxpayers keeping more of their money, and Iowa elections. 

News the Watchdog is Watching…Campaign promise sparks income tax discussion.

Posted on October 20, 2010

Iowans for Tax Relief President, Ed Failor Jr. spoke with The Des Moines Register about the sizable difference between how much Iowans at income levels above $86,000 send to state government compared to Iowans who earn less than $20,000.

News the Watchdog is Watching…The Des Moines Register agrees with Iowans for Tax Relief on state employee pay and benefits.

Posted on October 14, 2010

"It also costs taxpayers too much," The Des Moines Register editorial, October 12, 2010.

This week, the Register Editorial, "Public employee benefits should be cut," emphasizes the same point which Iowans for Tax Relief President, Ed Failor, Jr. has been discussing since last year.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Iowa taxpayers should be wary of panel’s estimated state tax collection increase.

Posted on October 12, 2010

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), a three-member state panel which predicts the estimated amount of tax collections received by the State of Iowa, met on Tuesday, October 11.  The panel revised the projection for growth in state tax collections to increase by $297.7 million for the current state budget year.

News the Watchdog is Watching…State employee pay scale needs changes.

Posted on October 7, 2010

Iowa's generously compensated state employee pay scale is drawing more attention as the November election draws near.  A recent Des Moines Register article reported Terry Branstad will consider restraining the future growth of public employee salaries and requiring state workers to pay part of the cost of health insurance.

News the Watchdog is Watching…More statistics show eliminating state income taxes equal a better economic situation.

Posted on October 5, 2010

In the most recent edition of the Public Interest Institute's LIMITS publication, the primary article, "Abolish State Income Taxes:  Statistics show they retard economic growth" makes yet another compelling case for the elimination of state income taxes.  This article highlights what the money in the higher tax states is paying for, which is primarily to pay state debt, as well as inflated government-worker salaries and benefits.

News the Watchdog is Watching…Report outlines true cost of Iowa’s generational debt.

Posted on October 1, 2010

The non-partisan Fiscal Services Agency of the Iowa Legislature published a report on Thursday, September 30th, detailing the total debt approved by Governor Culver to finance his I-Jobs Program.  The Fiscal Topic reports officially, Iowa taxpayers are on the hook for a total of $1.69 billion as a result of the debt which the Governor approved in 2009 and 2010. 

News the Watchdog is Watching…New report shows how federal tax plan will impact Iowa taxpayers.

Posted on September 29, 2010

There is continued speculation on how or if the United States Congress will extend federal tax cuts which are set to expire at the end of this year.  Allowing the federal tax cuts, which were enacted in 2001 and 2003, to expire will impact Iowa taxpayers. 

News the Watchdog is Watching….Millions of taxpayer dollars spent in secret.

Posted on September 27, 2010

Last year, more than $40 million of Iowa taxpayer dollars were authorized by the state's five-member Executive Council.  However, the details on how the $40 million was spent are difficult for Iowans to find on their own. 

News the Watchdog is Watching…Iowa job creation: staying the course will not do.

Posted on September 22, 2010

According to reports this week, Governor Culver's job creation plan for Iowa is to simply stay the course.  Unfortunately, the Iowa unemployment rate tells a different story.  In figures released on Tuesday, September 21, the number of unemployed Iowans has increased to a total of 114,200 Iowans out of work.   

News the Watchdog is Watching… Iowa Department of Revenue Launches Program to Collect Overdue Court Debt

Posted on September 20, 2010

In an attempt for the State of Iowa to boost revenue, the State is currently offering an amnesty program for past due Iowa court fees and fines.  The program which began on September 1 and runs through November 30, offers people with Iowa court fines and fees more than four years old debt amnesty.  For those who pay 50 percent of their overdue fines and fees in one lump sum, the remaining debt will be forgiven. 

News the Watchdog is Watching...Iowa prison construction job may be awarded to out of state contractor.

Posted on September 17, 2010

In 2008, the Iowa Legislature and Governor Culver authorized the construction of a new state prison in Fort Madison.  Building the new prison is financed through borrowing $130.7 million, and paid off by court fines and fees.  Now, there are reports the construction jobs will be given to out of state workers.

News the Watchdog is Watching...Iowa employers to face another tax increase on January 1, 2011

Posted on September 16, 2010

Earlier this month the Iowa Department of Workforce Development announced the Iowa employer unemployment insurance contribution rate will increase on January 1, 2011.  This is an automatic tax increase which will be imposed on Iowa's job creators to keep the Iowa Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund solvent. 

News The Watchdog is Watching...Taxpayers: making fiscally responsible decisions; government should follow suit

Posted on September 15, 2010

Taxpayers:  making fiscally responsible decisions; government should follow suit.

Recently, the Principal Financial Well-Being Index was released for the third quarter of 2010, and Americans are taking action to improve their financial situation through spending less money, paying down debt, and saving for emergencies.  The index results shows workers and retirees have been making decisions to improve or rebuild their financial security since the recession began. 

 

State Budget Savings Measures

Posted on January 6, 2010

On Monday, the Iowa Legislature will convene for the 2010 Legislative Session, and Iowans across the state will hold their breath, waiting to see if Governor Culver and Legislators will increase taxes. Iowans are all painfully aware the state budget is in terrible shape with a billion-dollar spending gap.

Ed Failor says recipients of stimulus dollars understand it's not about long term job creation

Posted on December 16, 2009

Opinion: Curb illegal immigration; curb state spending.

Posted on December 16, 2009

In less than one month, the Iowa Legislature will return to Des Moines for the 2010 Legislative Session, and lawmakers will face the largest budget gap in state history, adding up to more than one billion dollars.  How Governor Culver and our Legislators choose to manage this financially devastating budget mess will shape our state for years to come.  It is time to look at every single area of state spending.

Opinion: Time to Change and Consolidate State Government

Posted on December 8, 2009

While the economy continues to struggle, state lawmakers have a rare and valuable opportunity for major change and reform within state government. Governor Culver and Iowa Legislators must not pass up this chance to completely change the way the State of Iowa does business. There is no better time to evaluate and make state government better for Iowa taxpayers. 

Opinion: Stronger Spending Limit Would Save Iowa Taxpayers Millions

Posted on December 2, 2009

Iowa taxpayers were dealt another crushing blow last week when the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Services Division announced the state is facing a budget gap totaling more than one billion dollars.  This number estimates the amount by which state spending will exceed expected tax revenues.  There is no doubt, the Iowa budget is in bad shape - but there is a way out of budget chaos.

Opinion: Combine Iowa Regent Universities

Posted on November 17, 2009

As I continue to suggest ideas for Governor Culver and the Iowa Legislature to consider for budget savings, I have thought about one of the slogans of our great state "Iowa:  Fields of Opportunity."   There could not be a more appropriate slogan for our state.  The economic crisis Iowa is facing continues to provide our lawmakers with indeed, fields of opportunity. 

Opinion: Moving Iowa forward, sell state prisons to private-sector

Posted on November 9, 2009

The work of government taking and spending your money is endless, and state leaders continue to nibble around the edges.  Governor Culver has taken a one-size fits all approach to correcting the state budget instead of looking for ways to make Iowa a better run state.

Opinion: Charge for state employee health insurance

Posted on November 2, 2009

Last week, the possibility of renegotiating the current state employee pay contract was discussed by Governor Culver.  However, neither the Governor nor the employee unions have stated they intend to reopen the current contract, an action which should happen without delay.   

Opinion: How to slow government growth? End taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Posted on October 26, 2009

It is time the State of Iowa begins to do business differently, and end the practice of allowing state employees to lobby lawmakers on spending issues.

Opinion: State layoffs not necessary; align state worker pay with private sector

Posted on October 19, 2009

Just over a week ago, Governor Culver implemented an across the board cut of $564.5 million as a knee-jerk reaction to the state spending problem.  Since the announcement, state agencies have begun to announce how many Iowans they plan to layoff due to the Governor's action.

Opinion: We have a unique opportunity to make Iowa an even better state

Posted on October 9, 2009

With the news state coffers are $415 million short for 2010 and $1 billion short for 2011, it is time real solutions are offered to lift our great state out of the deep financial downturn.  Governor Culver is offering quick-fix solutions such as cutting all state agencies across the board, by the same percentage, because it "avoids the unfair and unrealistic 'picking and choosing' of important programs" as he stated in Executive Order 19. [i]  The job of an executive is to make the tough decisions because it is the right thing to do, not because there is an easier option.