By Senator Paul McKinley – Iowa Senate Republican Leader
Turning Iowa’s current stretch of high unemployment toward a more optimistic path with more jobs, economic growth and prosperity in all 99 counties will require Iowa to become more competitive. In this global economy, we are not just competing against our neighboring states – but with countries from all around the globe.
Several publications and news organizations have recently taken a look at Iowa’s standing compared to the other 49 states. For example, US News & World Report noted that Iowa is 49th in the nation – only ahead of West Virginia – and the very reputable Small Business Survival Index placed us at 41st.
Iowa did receive some better news recently. CNBC released a survey showing Iowa as sixth in the nation overall and first when it comes to ‘cost of business’. They also factored in other important areas like cost of living and quality of life among others.
However, a closer look reveals just how tenuous their ratings of our state really are.
According to CNBC, “Cost is a major consideration when a company chooses a state. We looked at the tax burden, including individual income and property taxes, business taxes, even the gasoline tax.”
On each and every one of these important issues of importance to employers and job creators, Governor Culver and legislative Democrats either succeeded or made a serious attempt to undermine Iowa’s competitiveness and make us less attractive to job creators. Since a year ago, CNBC has already dropped Iowa’s overall ranking.
Here are a few quick examples:
Governor Culver and legislative Democrats made a serious push to end federal deductibility which is a tax on a tax.
Democrats tried to strip away Iowa’s Right-to-Work status and fundamentally gut Iowa’s collective bargaining policies.
Legislative Democrats and Governor Culver knowingly failed to couple Iowa’s tax code with the federal code therefore producing a massive income tax increase especially on flood victims and teachers.
Governor Culver and legislative Democrats opted against fully funding education allowable growth, thus forcing more of the financial burden on to the backs of local property taxpayers while simultaneously authorizing the four largest spending budgets in state history.
Democrats sponsored bills to begin combined corporate reporting of income taxes which would seriously punish job creators.
Legislative Democrats, with the support of Governor Culver, nearly passed a job killing prevailing wage that would have substantially increased the cost of public construction projects and would have lead to even higher property taxes.
Several prominent Democrats in the Legislature made an aggressive attempt to raise gasoline and fuel taxes during the last few years.
CNBC also factored in utility costs, noting that “utility costs can add up to a huge expense for business, and they vary widely by state.”
Democrats were silent when Iowa’s onerous regulations imposed by Governors Vilsack and Culver’s appointees to important commissions and boards caused Iowa to lose a $1.7 billion dollar clean coal energy plant near Marshalltown. This plant would have increased Iowa’s base load capacity, created private sector jobs and stimulated the local economy.
Many legislative Democrats also were vocal opponents and ultimately voted against a study that could lead to the construction of a clean energy nuclear power plant in Iowa.
CNBC “also looked at the cost of wages and state workers’ compensation insurance, as well as rental costs for office and industrial space.”
Like the other important issues of importance to job creators, they also attempted to negatively tamper with Iowa’s superior worker’s compensation insurance system by pushing doctor shopping legislation that punishes job creators, increases business costs and reduces the quality of health care for Iowa workers.
Iowa already has some of the highest property taxes in the nation and Culver’s recent property tax increase is about to hit the pocketbooks of Iowans this September. Those increases will up the cost of renting or buying office and industrial space.
At nearly every turn, Governor Culver and legislative Democrats have tried to systematically undermine every one of these important economic indicators and make our state less competitive and less attractive to entrepreneurs, employers and job creators.
Had Republicans in the Legislature with the assistance of an informed and active public not stood up and stopped much of the wayward Democrat agenda during the last four years, it is scary to contemplate where our ratings could have ended up.
This is why it is important that we begin to renew the promise of a more hopeful and optimistic Iowa and change the direction that Governor Culver and legislative Democrats have tried to take our state the last few years. Higher property taxes, unacceptable levels of unemployment, a quintupling of state debt and a billion dollar deficit on the horizon does not equal progress.
It’s time to get back to making long-term private sector job creation a priority, it’s time to get serious about putting Iowa’s finances back on solid footing and it’s time to end the anti-jobs and higher taxes agenda that are burdening our families and making it more difficult for job creators to invest in our state and workforce.
With the right leadership in place, a flourishing future for Iowa can be achievable. Senate Republicans stand ready to offer that leadership in order to move our great state forward.