A proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution would require a two-thirds majority vote by both the House and Senate in order for legislators to increase individual income taxes.
Senator Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City) proposed the legislation.
“It simply says if you’re going to raise taxes on Iowa taxpayers it’s going to require a super majority vote from both (chambers),” Carlin said. “We did this to put some limitation on government spending.”
Studies have shown the rate of government spending at the state, city and county levels has far exceeded the rate of inflation.
“Taxpayers are being asked to pay more and more every year,” Carlin said. “What we want to do with this is give Iowa taxpayers a vote in this conversation. It gives Iowans an opportunity to put a limitation on government spending.”
Senator Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames) asked Carlin why sales tax isn’t included. Carlin said sales tax is discretionary while income tax is not.
“Government unfortunately has the power to take whatever it wishes,” Carlin said. “A sales tax — nobody can force you to buy something.”
Quirmbach disagreed that income taxes are mandatory. He suggested people could choose not to work.
“Actually income is also discretionary,” Quirmbach said. “Whether you choose to work or not work is something that also people can choose.”
A sales tax, Quirmbach said, is the most regressive tax we have.
“They hit poor people harder than anyone else,” he said. “If we’re going to restrict taxes, we really ought to do it across the board.”
He also took exception with the two-thirds vote requirement.
“I would note that we are a democracy — a small ‘d’ democracy,” Quirmbach said. “A place where majorities rule. This would give a minority a veto on significant fiscal legislation.”
Carlin finished discussion by noting that state government has grown 65 percent in the last 15 years. City and county spending is up 125 percent in the last 15 years.
Health insurance, student loans, taxes — it all adds up to one major economic problem for the middle class, Carlin said.
“Put the brakes on spending,” he said. “Put some of the decision-making power back where it belongs.”