Property Taxes Going Up, Now is Not the Time for Open Scope Collective Bargaining

With the Governor enacting an across the board cut without lowering the spending authority for K-12 schools, property taxes are sure to go up dramatically this year. This is yet another reason why the Legislature should not revisit House File 2645, the open scope collective bargaining bill.

In 2008, the Legislature approved HF 2645, a bill that dramatically changed Chapter 20, the public employee collective bargaining rules and 260C, which deals with teacher contracts and termination. The bill was rammed through undercover of darkness and approved by Democrats. By sneaking it through, Democrats avoided the deafening public outcry from both taxpayers and local government officials that followed.

The Governor vetoed HF 2645, stating that it was “a poorly written bill with sometimes-ambiguous language that raises troubling, unanswered questions and unresolved uncertainties for management, labor and taxpayers alike. At the heart of the ambiguities is the ‘open scope’ language of the bill, which does not define what is, and what is not, a part of the ‘other terms and conditions not already excluded,’ that could be made subject to mandatory bargaining…. all of which could be made subject to binding arbitration upon impasse and which could potentially result in untold and unintended obligations resulting in substantial tax increases.” (Governor’s Veto Message, May 15, 2008)

Does this bill help grow Iowa’s economy?

There is a fear among taxpayers and local government officials that since the Democrats were able to approve HF 2645 in an election year with smaller majorities in both chambers, a new version of the bill will likely come up again in 2010.

With unemployment at a 26-year high, House Republicans will continue to judge every bill next session with the question “Does this bill help grow Iowa’s economy?” Open scope bargaining will increase property taxes, which will hurt Iowa’s economy, and for that reason is opposed by House Republicans.