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Friday, February 14, 2020

Imagination Is Our Only Limitation

Well, imagination and the government. 
SC Johnson Administration Building - designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
Photo by Kenneth J. Gill
Frank Lloyd Wright famously said, “Our imagination is our only limitation.” However, the State of Wisconsin once tried to limit his ability to be an architect. 

One of ITR’s members shared a story he recently heard during a tour of the SC Johnson building in Racine, Wisconsin.  
H. F. Johnson Jr. wanted more than “just another office building.” He wanted one that would be the best in the world – and he wanted it to be designed and built by “the best architect in the world,” Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, Mr. Wright wasn’t licensed by the State of Wisconsin.

During construction, inspectors refused to approve Wright’s plans because of that lack of a license. Wright, never one to miss a chance at good publicity, allegedly responded to the inspectors that he would be glad to take their licensing examination if it would be administered orally on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol. 

After more bureaucratic bickering, the issues were resolved, the building was built, and Wright continued his practice as an architect in the state of Wisconsin – without a license – for another 20 years.
Wright’s story might be a humorous and historic anecdote, but it highlights a very real and common problem that exists today: unnecessary and excessive barriers are placed in front of people who just want to work and earn a living. 

Iowa is the 2nd most licensed state in the country. This makes it more difficult and more expensive for Iowans to earn a living and fill high-demand jobs.

Legislators need to increase economic opportunities for workers with:
  • Job License Reviews
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Universal Recognition
  • Fee waivers for low-income workers
Occupational licenses protecting the health and wellbeing of citizens make sense and are practical, but too often, licensing requirements create barriers for Iowa’s most vulnerable.  Fortunately, subcommittee hearings were held for five occupational licensing bills this week and at least three of those bills were passed on to their respective full committees as of this morning.

ITR Supports Income Tax Cuts

ITR President Chris Ingstad speaks during Governor Kim Reynolds's press conference.
Governor Kim Reynolds introduced the Invest in Iowa Act at her weekly press conference. ITR President Chris Ingstad was asked to speak about the comprehensive tax reform plan. 

Ingstad shared, "Iowa is in competition with the rest of the country, and especially our Midwestern neighbors, to attract and retain people and businesses. Taxes matter and the best way to improve Iowa’s tax code is to cut income tax rates. The legislation the Governor has proposed cuts income taxes in both the short term and the long term."

More of ITR’s analysis of how the Governor’s Invest in Iowa Act could help Iowa can be viewed here.

What do you think?

At the Capitol, ITR is working for legislation that would help you keep more money in your bank account.

This week, multiple bills were passed out of subcommittees: 
  • Occupational Licensing (4)
  • Inheritance Tax Elimination
  • Removing the Welfare Cliff
  • Comprehensive Review of all Fees
Take a look at our Legislative Update page for more details on these and other bills. 

Property Tax Pain

The Des Moines City Council and Polk County Board of Supervisors have provided two examples of why citizens need to remain engaged with property taxes and talk with their elected officials. 

After initially indicating they would reduce their levy by 40 cents, the Des Moines City Council has backtracked and might only reduce it by 10 cents. Even with a 10-cent reduction, property tax revenue would increase by almost seven percent.

How can that be? 

The Business Record provided excellent insight into the situation earlier this week, pointing out that the average valuation in Polk County recently increased by over 10%, meaning that if local governments hold their tax rates steady, property tax bills will be going up.  

Des Moines City Councilman Joe Gatto was quoted by the Business Record defending the taxpayer, “When residents open up their [property] tax bill, they are going to have a substantial increase even with a 10-cent decrease in the levy. Right now, we can pay for the things we want to do with a rate that’s lower.  We have a significant amount of growth. We should be rewarding our taxpayers by lowering that rate; continue doing the projects we have got to do and fix our neighborhoods. … I’m going to have a difficult time voting for just a 10-cent reduction.”

Polk County found itself in a similar situation as Supervisors considered their budget in light of assessments increasing 7.4% across the county. Monday, the DM Register asked the question, "When revenue is up, should elected officials in Polk County get a raise, or should county residents get property tax relief?"

It's reasonable for tax bills to increase in line with inflation and population growth. However, when taxes increase faster than household incomes, families feel the pain.

Elected officials at all levels of government who vote for collecting and spending more money should be able to look a taxpayer in the eye, without a shred of embarrassment, and explain why the government needed the money more than the person who earned it.

Contact your local officials. Let them know where you stand. Make them justify their decisions.

It’s easy for politicians to yield to noisy special interest groups when the taxpayer keeps quietly paying the bills.
Copyright © 2020 Iowans for Tax Relief, All rights reserved.

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