October 2013 Update

September Revenue Shows Continued Growth

After two months of slower than expected growth, Iowa experienced a significant uptick in revenue during September. Overall General Fund revenue growth for the month was 10.8 percent higher than September 2012. That growth pushed the overall figure for FY 2014 to 4.1 percent growth, or additional revenue of $62 million. This amount is above the projection by the Revenue Estimating Conference of 1.8 percent growth for the fiscal year.

During the first three months of the fiscal year, there had been some concern about the lack of growth in personal income tax collections. This category is the main source of tax revenue for the state, and the July and August’s personal income tax revenue was below its normal pace. In September, personal income tax receipts bounced back. The category grew by 8.7 percent as compared to September 2012. This helped raise the FY 2014 growth number in this category to 3.7 percent. Even with this strong month, personal income tax revenue continues to run below the Revenue Estimating Conference projection of 4.5 percent growth.

Another area of strong growth was corporate income tax collections. In September, this revenue category took in 23.4 percent more than it did in September 2012. For the first three months, corporate income tax revenue has been growing at 18.3 percent. This is slightly above the REC’s projection of 0.5 percent growth for the year. It would seem unlikely that corporate tax revenue growth will keep this pace, as October through December of 2012 saw many Iowa companies paying taxes in advance of the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts.

The October report also showed how the state ended up for Fiscal Year 2013. With all revenue and transferred accounted for, state revenue grew by 7.2 percent in 2013 or growth of $449.4 million over the previous fiscal year. The FY 2013 total was $6.652 billion in General Fund revenue.

The first official FY 15 revenue projection will come from the REC next Thursday. The three member panel will have its fall meeting at 10 am. The group will make its preliminary FY 2015 projection and will revise the FY 2014 projection, after accounting for the final FY 2013 numbers.

Iowa Bow Hunting Season Begins

Iowa bow hunting season began October 1st. Iowa bow hunters have been busy hanging stands, trimming shooting lanes and checking trail cameras. Most of the 60,000 deer hunters expected to buy bow season tags climb into their stands in early October. Dealing again with another dry summer, there will be some adjustments in the early days.

Deer will key in green food such as clover early as well as acorns as they begin to fall.

Ahead of the season, hunters should check their gear, as well as their stands. Falls associated with tree stand use are the most common hunting accident during the bow season. Stands and ladders should be tested to ensure they are solidly in place. Straps on stands and restraints on hunting harnesses should be solid and free of fraying or other wear and tear. With the solitary nature of bow hunting, it is important to let someone know where you are and when you expect to return.

Any deer taken must be reported through Iowa’s harvest reporting system by midnight the day after the deer is tagged. The process takes only a couple minutes. Log on to the DNR website; http://www.iowadnr.gov or call the toll free reporting number at 800-771-4692. You can also file that report at any license vendor in Iowa.

Harvest Safety Reminder

This week I received an email from a constituent that had come up behind a tractor on a highway that had a blacktopped shoulder. The tractor had backed up a large group of cars as he was moving down the highway because he was not driving on the shoulder. The constituent proposed I draft legislation that would require the tractor to use the shoulder portion of the highway.

He also told of another incident where a tractor was traveling down the highway late in the night. The tractor had no warning lights working, just field lights on the back of the tractor. The constituent thought he was meeting an oncoming car in his lane. He swerved to miss, ending up in the ditch.

I understand this constituent’s frustration, I have been in the same situation before. There are difficult decisions for all involved: the farmer attempting to get a large piece of machinery down the road, and the drivers behind deciding whether to pass or not.

Harvest-time in rural Iowa is a particularly dangerous time on the roads as many more tractors and pieces of farm equipment join the traffic on our state’s roads and highways.

Along with this change in traffic patterns comes the potential for tragic accidents. The Iowa Department of Transportation records show that Iowa averaged 300 agricultural collisions per year between 1994 and 1997. More than 25 percent of those collisions happened in October during harvest.

Chuck Schwab, Iowa State University Extension farm safety specialist, says that the most common types of collisions are left-turn and rear-end collisions. The left-turn collision happens when the farm vehicle is about to make a wide left turn and the vehicle behind begins to pass. The second most common incident is a rear-end collision, where another vehicle approaches farm equipment and is unable to slow down and avoid a collision. These incidents most often happen between 3 – 6 p.m.

When I was in high school we took a tractor safety course in FFA which recommended that we stay in the traffic lane because most shoulders do not allow enough room to get the farm equipment totally out of the traffic lane. By moving on to the shoulder and hanging over a little gives a partial lane in which the people tend to try to squeeze by. That too has caused accidents. I have witnessed some near misses on more than one occasion.

Depending on the type of shoulder (gravel or paved) some shoulders do not support the heavy weight of the equipment and can give way. As equipment has become larger, it has become more difficult to see what is behind you. Mailboxes can cause problems, forcing farm equipment out into the lane of traffic to go around them. I try to pull off to the side of the road or at an intersection to allow traffic to pass by safely when possible.

We farmers do need to be reminded from time to time that we should make sure all our safety and warning lights are working properly, and that we should share the road when possible. Often in the middle of the harvest or planting season we are so focused on getting the job done that we lose sight of things that are happening around us. Moving equipment from dusk to dawn without the proper safety lighting should not be attempted.

Cars and tractors moving at different speeds do not mix well on the roadways. This is Iowa though, Iowa’s economy relies on agriculture. So during this harvest season, I ask our urban friends to be patient, give yourself a little extra time, and enjoy the fall scenery when coming up behind some farm equipment on the highway. To my farmer friends, take some time to check your warning lights, decals and safety equipment. Also be considerate of the folks behind you and let them pass when you can as you travel the roads. Our lives and livelihoods depend on it. Be Safe.

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