In the recent past, the legislature had a nasty habit of spending too much of your money. When I say too much, I mean that they spent more than there was in revenue. That is not sustainable and over the last several years, we have kicked that habit.
Responsible budget reforms combined with a strong economy have given us not only enough to pay the state’s bills but also left some over. To me, when we have met the state’s obligations, any money left over is simply an over-collection of taxes.
The question becomes what to do with this over-collection. Some would like it built right into the budget and used to permanently grow government. It may work when the economy is strong, but it leads to deep cuts and unfulfilled obligations when it weakens. This is how the state got itself in trouble in the past.
We took a very balanced approach with that over-collection this year. We used some of the over-collection to pay off debt. We used some of it to invest in infrastructure. We also made good on our promise to send some of it back to the taxpayers it came from.
The foundation for our ability to send money back to taxpayers was established in 2011 when Iowa House Republicans pushed to create the Taxpayer Trust Fund. This fund captures revenue left over after the budget process is completed and protects it to be returned to the taxpayers.
The Taxpayer Trust Fund is aimed at responsibly taking one-time money off the table so that it is not used to grow government in the good years which makes us unable to handle the tough years.
I am proud that the vision we had in 2011 is now coming to fruition. The Taxpayer Trust Fund will give individual Iowa taxpayers $120 million in tax credits that can easily be claimed when they file their 2013 state tax return. This is money that will be pumped directly into our economy instead of the state government’s budget.
The Taxpayer Trust Fund is proving to be a wonderful way to provide relief for hardworking Iowa families while also strengthening the fiscal health of our state.
I appreciate hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts and feedback at 515-281-4618 or Linda.Upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov.