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Basketball Burlington Iowa Local New London News Notre Dame Sports

Tiger’s after Game Presentation Touches Hearts

Photo by Dan Hockett Notre Dame’s Johanna Myers (right) is brought to tears after New London Teammates presented her with an autographed t-shirt supporting her father Jim Myers’ battle with cancer.
Photo by Dan Hockett
Notre Dame’s Johanna Myers (right) is brought to tears after New London Teammates presented her with an autographed t-shirt supporting her father Jim Myers’ battle with cancer.
Photo by Dan Hockett New London Teammates Victoria Noel (21) and Paetyn Prottsman (right) present Notre Dame’s Johanna Myers (left) with an autographed t-shirt supporting her father Jim Myers’ battle with cancer.
Photo by Dan Hockett
New London Teammates Victoria Noel (21) and Paetyn Prottsman (right) present Notre Dame’s Johanna Myers (left) with an autographed t-shirt supporting her father Jim Myers’ battle with cancer.
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Burlington Danville Iowa Local Mediapolis News Political West Burlington

State Issues from Tom Sands

News from the Hill…

The bill to increase the fuel tax seems to be gaining momentum this week.  The big question is will the bill pass or will it ignite and explode?  This next week is an important week for this debate.  There are two bills, one moving through the process in the Iowa House and the other moving through the process in the Iowa Senate.  Both bills have been passed out of the subcommittee and will be debated in the full Transportation Committee early next week.  If the bill passes out of the Transportation Committee it will be referred to the Ways and Means Committee. Members of the Transportation Committee tend to be more “friendly” to transportation issues, such as funding.  Members on the Ways and Means Committee tend to be more divided on tax issues.  Republicans tend to be hesitant or against raising taxes and Democrats tend to be more willing or open to raising taxes.  There are twenty-five members on the Ways and Means Committee, fourteen Republicans and eleven Democrats.  The bill will need thirteen votes to pass out of committee.  This could be an interesting committee meeting and the bill has to pass out of the Ways and Means Committee before it can be debated on the House or Senate Floor.  I chair this committee and I am considered the gatekeeper for all tax and fee issues.  I am a no vote because I don’t think the bill even comes close to solving the problem and just taking more money from the people of Iowa should not be the answer.  However, I am willing to open the gate if it is the will of the body, because I am not an obstructionist, either.

State Revenues…

State revenues fell in January, raising concerns that the state may not meet last December’s projection for growth during the current fiscal year. January’s General Fund revenue was $29.5 million (-5.0%) below what the state took in during January 2014. This put revenue growth for the first seven months at a positive $152.4 million, or growth of 4.1 percent. While still positive, state revenue had grown by 5.8 percent through December 2014. Compared to the Revenue Estimating Conference’s FY 2015 projection in December, actual revenue growth is behind the 6.8 percent increase projected. In terms of actual dollars, actual returns are $100.6 million behind the REC projection.

Spending and Reserves…

As Iowans continue to discuss the proposed state budget for fiscal year 2016 and the level of funding for Iowa schools, some in the education community are urging legislators to spend beyond on-going revenue to meet local school needs. This point of view seems to forget the past 30 years of Iowa history and ignore the state’s economic condition.

In the 1980’s, Iowa’s economy was suffering the full effect of the farm crisis. State finances suffered due to the loss of revenue and questionable accounting practices.   Schools and local governments were forced to borrow money while they waited for state aid payments, while the Legislature made financial promises it could not keep. The crisis reached a head when the Legislature enacted major budgeting reforms during two special legislative sessions in 1992.

A central tenet of these reforms was the creation of two reserve funds to avoid the mistakes of the 1980’s. The first of the reserve funds is the Cash Reserve Fund, which allows the state to make on-time payments to schools, local governments, health care providers, and others, is required to have an amount deposited in it equal to 7.5 percent of the General Fund budget that year. The Economic Emergency Fund is required to have an amount equal to 2.5 percent of the General Fund budget. It is to be used when the state is experiencing an economic disaster. Each year this amount rises to equal a total of ten percent of the General Fund budget. For Fiscal Year 2015, the amount in the two reserves rose by nearly $50 million to just under $700 million.

When House Republicans took control of the Iowa House in 2011, Iowa’s two reserve funds were not filled to the statutorily-required levels. Governor Culver and Legislative Democrats had spent from the two funds to maintain their spending practices which spent more than the state collected. This fundamentally flawed approach left the two reserve funds $105.8 million short of their statutorily-required levels in fiscal year 2011.

Thanks to fiscal discipline and a strengthening economy, House Republicans were able to restore both the Cash Reserve Fund and the Economic Emergency Fund to their required levels. I will not vote to place the State’s fiscal house in jeopardy, if cuts need to be made so be it. Improving Iowa’s fiscal house has also allowed the state to utilize ending balances in several significant ways.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

 – Abraham Lincoln

For more information on these and other bills:  www.legis.iowa.gov

Until next time,

Tom Sands

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Basketball Football Iowa Local News Sports West Burlington

W.B. Coach Raleigh to Retire

Photo by Dan Hockett West Burlington Coach Rick Raleigh was honored Tuesday night for his many years of dedication to WB Falcons teams. Raleigh will retire this year after more than 30-years of coaching in West Burlington.
Photo by Dan Hockett
West Burlington Coach Rick Raleigh was honored Tuesday night for his many years of dedication to WB Falcons teams. Raleigh will retire this year after more than 30-years of coaching in West Burlington.
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Burlington Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

Feds Charge Iowa Widow Over How She Deposited Husband’s Cash

Click here: US Charges Iowa Widow Over How She Deposited Husband’s Cash

dollars bundle 100

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Burlington Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

Gallup CEO: Number of Full-Time Jobs as Percent of Population Is Lowest It’s Ever Been (Video)

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Burlington Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

Gallup CEO: 5.6% Unemployment is ‘The Big Lie’

Click here: Here’s something that many Americans — including some of the smartest and most educated among us — don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.
There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
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Burlington Danville Iowa Local Mediapolis News Political West Burlington

State Issues from Tom Sands

News from the Hill…

This past week the Iowa House held the first debate for the year. It was a six hour debate that included some caucus time. The bill established the increased growth of state aid for schools for fiscal year 2016. The debate centered around those who wanted to spend more than what the state has to spend and those of us who are fiscally responsible to keep spending in line with revenue. Some seem to find it easy to make promises that simply cannot be kept. Iowa’s economy is stable but the agricultural economy is simply not as robust as it has been in the past. For instance, John Deere has announced over nine hundred layoffs at several different plants. The layoffs in the Ankeny plant will be its biggest layoff in it’s history. So I believe it is very prudent to steady the growth with the uncertainty of actual funding revenue for the next year. The State funding for school aid for this next fiscal year increases approximately $50 million dollars for school aid and $50 million for Teacher Leadership Compensation. This total is one half of the available growth of additional dollars for the projected state revenues.

Commerce Committee…

In the Commerce Committee this week, we had a presentation from the ICN, about Broadband in Iowa. In the past the ICN has tried to get a bigger piece of business from the private sector. But it appears at this time they have received the message from the legislature that government ran entities should not be competing with the private sector as it is an uneven playing field tilted in the favor of government. The Governor has mentioned “connecting farms, schools and communities” last year in his campaign and this year in his state of the state speech. The governor’s office will be submitting a bill on broadband which I have just now received a personal copy and will read this weekend. The biggest question that will need to be answered is this, what is the role of government (taxpayers) in connecting every farm, school and community? The cost of laying fiber optics is very expensive. There has to be a significant rate of return for companies to be able to afford the investment of laying fiber optics. If taxpayers are asked to make some type of investment, there still needs to be a worthy rate of return on investment. There will be much more on this subject in the near future. I have been assigned to the subcommittee on HSB 96 that is in the Commerce Committee. This bill is an act exempting internet protocol-enabled service and voice over internet protocol service from specified regulatory authority known as VOIP. This bill has been very controversial in the past. While this may be the direction many are going in the industry, it cannot be at the expense of rate payers. There will be much more on this bill in the future, also.

Ways and Means Committee…

The Ways and Means Committee passed two bills out of committee this past week that I wrote about in last week’s newsletter. One of the bills, HSB 67, is very time sensitive. This bill decides whether the State of Iowa is going to couple with Federal Tax Laws for tax year 2014. The bill we passed will not couple with the Federal Bonus Depreciation, but it will couple with everything else including 179 expensing. This is very important for small business and farm businesses. This will lower the projected ending balance for fiscal year 2015, but increase the ongoing revenue for fiscal year 2016. The bill will now move to the house floor for further consideration. The other bill we passed out of committee was HSB 63, which modifies the deductions for 529 college savings plans. I wrote about both of these bills in last week’s newsletter. Both of these bills passed unanimously in committee and now move to the house floor for further consideration. They will become a House File and be assigned a new number.

 

“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

 

For more information on these and other bills:  www.legis.iowa.gov

Until next time,

Tom Sands

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Burlington Health Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

Obamacare costs taxpayers $50,000 for everyone who gets health insurance

Click here: Obamacare program costs $50,000 in taxpayer money for every American who gets health insurance, says bombshell budget report

barackobama-52-110661297802769ftv

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Burlington Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

Housing Market Weak Even with Government Programs

Click here: U.S. housing market remains weak despite six years of federal government aid, record low interest rates and massive mortgage bond purchases by the Federal Reserve.
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Burlington Iowa Local News West Burlington

Man hospitalized after jumping out of W.B. party bus on highway

Click here: A man jumped out of the back of a West Burlington party bus traveling southbound on Interstate 218 early Sunday morning, police said.