Capitol Update for March 29th, 2012

Recap of Week 12

This week I had the pleasure of joining Representative Vander Linden in welcoming Oskaloosa native Tyler Sash to the Iowa House. Sash played safety for the Iowa Hawkeyes and just finished his rookie season with the World Champion New York Giants. We accompanied him to the Governor’s office for the signing of a proclamation declaring Tuesday the Tyler Sash Foundation Awareness Day.

On Wednesday I met with Delaware County Supervisor Jeff Madlom and Delaware County Engineer Anthony Bardgett. On Thursday morning I met with two Jones County Fair executive members, Fair Manager John Harms and President of the fair board Joe Yedlik.

This Saturday, March 31st, there will be a forum in Dubuque at the Country Junction at 10:00 am. Please come and share any questions or comments you may have.

TIF Reform Continues in Bipartisan Fashion

For the last six weeks, Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees have been meeting to discuss various Tax Increment Financing (TIF) reform proposals.  While progress is being made, much work is left to do before a final agreement will be reached.

The House Republicans initially held three subcommittee hearings on the House Study Bill 540, taking public comment from all stakeholders under the current system.  HSB 540, admittedly received a great amount of attention, and as the session moved along some consensus appears to be at hand.

The House is currently working on an amendment in bipartisan fashion that would contain the following items in a TIF Reform bill:

  • Increased oversight – specifically audit language of TIF funds.
  • Increased transparency – ensuring other taxing entities are notified and meetings open to the public on each TIF project.
  • Require a “but for analysis” on all TIF related projects.
  • Sunset all Pre-1995 TIF’s, while granting waivers for those who can prove their bond payment schedule would require more time than year 2032.
  • Exempt Windmills from TIF’s going forward. Those currently in place would stand.
  • New TIF duration would be 15 years + 5 years.  Year one does not start until the assessment has increased 105%.
  • Enhanced Piracy language to address the situation in Iowa City/Coralville from occurring again.
  • List uses of what TIF cannot be used for. Firehouses, police stations, city halls, swimming pools, salaries and buildings that don’t produce property taxes would not be permitted to use TIF funds.
  • Allow residential TIF’s for cities under 10,000 in population only.
  • Strike Sales Tax TIF’s.

Revenue Estimating Conference Increase Estimates

On Friday, March 23, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met to review and revise the revenue estimates for FY 2012 and FY 2013.  As expected, the REC increased the estimate for both years.

The REC consists of Dave Roederer (Governor’s appointee), Holly Lyons (Legislature’s appointee) and David Underwood (private sector member, appointed by the other two members).

For FY 2012, the estimate was increased by $50.9 million for a total of $6.051 billion.  Current spending for FY 2012 is just under $6 billion.  Of the increase, $14 million will be deposited into the Taxpayers Trust Fund (which reaches its cap of $60 million) and the remainder flows into the ending balance.  For FY 2013, the estimate was increased by $29 million, for a total of $6.281 billion.  By law, the additional $29 million cannot be spent and must be deposited into the Taxpayers Trust Fund at the end of FY 2013.

The FY 2012 ending balance is now $437 million.  Under the House Republican budget plan, after the reserve funds are filled to 10 percent, the remainder will be deposited into the Taxpayers Trust Fund (TTF).  If the Senate approves this provision, the TTF will have $380 million in it in FY 2013.  If the Legislature decides to rebate this money to the taxpayers, it would work out to over $200 per taxpayer.

For FY 2013, the House Republican budget spends $6.060 billion.  This is 96.5 percent of ongoing revenue.  The Governor proposed spending $6.244 billion, which is 99.5 percent of ongoing revenue. 

On the other hand, the Senate Democrats’ budget plan spends more than the state takes in.  Their targets appropriate $6.219 billion.  However, they shift $113 million of tobacco tax revenue into the Health Care Trust Fund and reduce revenue by $26.4 million by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, which lowers their ongoing revenue to $6.113 billion.  The Senate targets spend 102 percent of ongoing revenue.

As negotiations take place to reach an agreement on the FY 2013 budget, House Republicans will insist that ongoing spending be less than ongoing revenue.

House Republicans fought for the Taxpayers Trust Fund because any surplus or ending balance is caused by an overpayment of taxes by hardworking Iowans.  Therefore, that surplus should go to the TTF and not be used for ongoing spending.  In addition, House Republicans will continue to advocate for a budget blueprint that will have the ability to deal with the potential impact of high gas prices and federal cuts.

Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Awards Applications Due

On March 22, 2012, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued its weekly electronic newsletter “EcoNewsWire” which contained an article noting that Iowa businesses, organizations and citizens have two weeks left to apply for the Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Awards.  To download an application, go to www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/IowaEnvironmentalAwards.aspx; applications are due April 6, 2012.
These awards are the premier environmental honors in Iowa, recognizing leadership and innovation in the protection of Iowa’s water, land and air.  In addition to rewarding important efforts to improve Iowa’s natural resources, Gov. Branstad noted that highlighting success stories benefits other businesses and organizations in the state.
Awards will be given for overall Environmental Excellence, along with Special Project Awards in:

  • Air      Quality
  • Energy      Efficiency/Renewable Energy
  • Habitat      Restoration
  • Waste      Management
  • Water      Quality
  • Environmental      Education

The awards program is coordinated by the Iowa Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.  For more information and to download an application, go to www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/IowaEnvironmentalAwards.aspx or contact Emily Bainter at 515-242-5955 or Emily.Bainter@dnr.iowa.gov.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these topics or any others please feel free to contact me by e-mail at lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or by phone at (515) 281-7330.

Sincerely,

Lee Hein

 

 

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