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Target to layoff thousands

Click here: Target to cut jobs as part of $2B cost-savings plan
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Texas Town fires Police Dept. sees Crime drop 61%

Click here: Rather than degenerate into a lawless land where criminals rule the streets, a Texas town that fired its entire police department has seen a 61% decrease is crime.
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Burlington Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

U.S. Homeownership Rate Hits 20-Year Low

Click here: The homeownership rate in the United States dropped to a 20-year low of 64.5 percent in 2014, according to new data released by the Census Bureau.

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Burlington Iowa Local News Political West Burlington

Why Capitalism Works

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Who Are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?

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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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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)