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On Sunday the editorial board of The Des Moines Register laid out their vision for the 2013 Legislative session.

It consists of:

  • Increasing the sales tax to pay for outdoor recreation.
  • Raising standards (loss of local control) and resources (more money) for education – provided that there is evidence that these reforms work.
  • Reform property taxes, but not so much that municipalities are impacted.
  • Restore funding for Iowa’s courts and have the state chip in on courthouse renovations.
  • An increase in the sales tax to pay for infrastructure.
  • Don’t give the surplus back to the people, but make sure we increase funding on all of the services the Des Moines Register finds necessary.

It would seem that in the mind of the members of the editorial board the latchkey of whether we can make Iowa better or not is government.  I disagree.  Sure there are essential services that must be provided for, but we don’t secure a better Iowa by spending more money on government.

Why not explore these ideas for making Iowa better?

  • Give back the surplus to Iowans and let them spend it in our local businesses and funding our local charities.
  • Instead of increasing the amount we spend on public schools, give parent real, tangible choice through tax credits and deductions beyond what we currently offer with school tuition organization credits.
  • Unleash local control of education, but freeing local school boards to be innovative with education policy that will meet the needs of their students, parents and communities without having to go to ask the Department of Education for permission.
  • Is there a reason that we can’t have private investment into outdoor recreation and conservation?  Why not offer a tax credit or deduction for those who do?
  • How can we reform our justice system instead of just giving it more money?  How can the private sector be better engaged with those being released from our juvenile and adult correctional facilities to decrease recidivism and thereby lowering costs?  How about some common sense tort reform to help bring relief to the amount of cases on a judge’s docket?
  • The real question is this – where can we cut?  The Register didn’t list one spending cut in their vision.  The definition of “essential services” seems to become broader every year.  What is our state government doing that it simply shouldn’t be doing?  We have seen a collective growth in our budget and size of government regardless of what party has been in charge.  This needs to stop.
  • Why not bring about income tax reform?  Our income taxes are not competitive.  We can and should reform property taxes and income taxes for individuals and corporations.

Keeping taxes and spending low and allowing the private sector to thrive is the way to make Iowa better.  We can’t tax and spend our way to prosperity.

Originally posted for the Republican Party of Iowa

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