Stimulus Packages - Apparently the first request for state stimulus money is for a freaking bike trail from Waukee to Perry and back. The trail has a price tag for the state of $2.1 million. Supporters say it will provide jobs and recreation. This is ridiculous. Yep – it will provide a few jobs while it is built but has no long term economic payback - unless we have the nation’s first toll bike trail. Who out there has the gall to say this is a good idea? If we are going to try to spend ourselves into prosperity, at least build roads and infrastructure to make us more efficient. How about fourlaning every road we can.
Increasing the Gas Tax - The gas tax increase is another no-brainer. First, there should be no talk of increasing taxes during an economic slowdown. Second, there should be no Republican ever talking about raising taxes (see our platform). Third, if we all agree we need good roads, cut a department and shift the money from there. I’ll start with the Department of Education.
Speaking of cutting the Department of Education, here are some figures that should make you cringe. In 2008, in public schools, Iowa taxpayers spent $7,480 per pupil on average ($6,760 taxes, $720 local option sales tax). That is a total of $3.6 billion. So if your daughter has a class of 30, our state tax dollars pump $222,000 into that classroom. State universities are even worse. In 2008, our state tax dollars forked over almost $12,000 per college student. Doing the math on that really makes it hard to cheer for the Hawkeyes. A class of 300 students adds up to $3.6 million. If you add tuition into the bill it comes out to $5.49 million just for that class of 300. This isn’t taking into account tax dollars for research or hospitals or the millions of dollars in private donations to our colleges.
Freezing Legislative Salaries – An Iowa legislator makes $25,000 per year. Most of you know the hours and headache involved in being an elected official. For those of you who don’t, imagine a business owner working everyday from 7am-9pm and also working on the weekend. And then wake up and read a negative article about yourself in the Sunday edition of the Des Moines Register. Would any business owner in his right mind ever do that? I say we increase the salary of our elected officials to something respectful. In doing so, we may actually get some younger folks in there who don’t have 1,000 acres of farm ground paying their way through. Oh yeah, and we might get some better ideas. I’m thinking $40,000 might get us close.
And finally, Rep. Rod Roberts, Republican from Carroll, is talking about a possible run for Governor. Roberts is a fiscal conservative and somewhat socially conservative. He isn’t the type of candidate who talks about social issues or even a candidate who will really get you fired up. He is levelheaded and respected by those who know him. His addition to the Republican field will definitely make an impact.