Republicans and Democrats sparred today over GOP plans to cut income and other taxes before lawmakers wrap up their 2018 legislative session.
Separate bills in the House and Senate would cut taxes by as much as $2 billion over five years.
Both chambers would also increase sales taxes to help cover the cost of the income tax cuts.
Sen. Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) is ranking Democrat on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Speaking on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River, she predicted low to middle income taxpayers would barely come out ahead.
“Those earning less than $30,000 will see about a $40 change in their income tax, and a $22 increase in their sales tax,” Jochum said. “They're actually going to be behind the eight-ball a little bit.”
“Well, that’s just fictitious talk,” responded Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull). “That's just simply not the case.”
Democrats argued that cutting taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars a year won’t leave enough money for essential public services including education.
Sen. Feenstra countered that Democrats always want to spend more.
“We want to give Iowans their hard-earned money,” Feenstra said. “On the other side of it there's never enough.
“That's just a philosophical difference between a Democrat and a Republican,” Feenstra continued. “We have put in our plan to fund education, health and human services, public safety, and fund them at very high rates.”
“We would all like to fund education at a higher level,” said Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. “But if the revenue isn’t there, that’s not a possibility.”
The ranking Democrat on Vander Linden’s committee, Rep. Dave Jacoby (D-Coralville) said the state budget is “a mess” even without forfeiting revenue for tax cuts.
“I've heard for years that the state of Iowa needs to run their budget like a household budget,” Jacoby said. “If this is the way you run a household budget I want a divorce.”
Sen. Jochum disagreed that Iowa’s tax rates are uncompetitive compared to other states.
“There are 28 states with higher taxes, 21 states with lower,” Jochum said.