Local Governments Property Tax Addiction

Restrain Local Governments Addicted to Property Taxes

Property taxes are despised. We hear from Iowans of all political stripes about the giant bite property taxes take from family budgets. Now inflation is adding pressure by pushing up the price of gas and groceries, not to mention rising real estate assessments and tax bills.

Of course, increasing assessments don’t have to mean an automatic increase in property taxes. It would just require more self-control on the part of local officials to keep property taxes down. Unfortunately, decisions being made by three local governments in central Iowa make us skeptical that self-control is going to arrive anytime soon.

The Des Moines Register published an ITR Foundation op-ed this week that highlighted the need for additional restraints on local governments. See how local government decisions can push your property tax bills higher and higher. 

Unemployment Rate Falls: Biden Recession Ahead?

Conservative budgeting and pro-growth tax reforms are creating a stronger economy which is driving down the unemployment rate in Iowa. Unfortunately, national economic headwinds are creating problems and it appears more likely that an economic recession is imminent.

Rising inflation and interest rates will hurt every Iowan, especially those in the lower- and middle-income groups. Iowans are paying more for groceries and gasoline among other necessities and the inflation is reducing the amount of money they can put toward savings. The continued supply-chain crisis is also causing economic disruptions.

Learn what is contributing to the sudden rise of inflation and what the experts say it means for you and your family.

Rolling Blackouts May Be Coming to Iowa

Rolling blackouts have been a common theme in California for several years. However, according to an analysis from the North American Energy Reliability Council (NERC), the Midwest could experience them this summer.

The report explains that blackouts are a possibility because too many reliable power plants—think nuclear, coal, and natural gas—have been shut down, and electric companies are attempting to replace them with energy sources like wind and solar, which only work if the weather cooperates.

The graph above shows how much electricity Iowa wind turbines generated in each month of 2020 compared to their potential output. Now, the Midwest will have to hope for unusually windy weather this summer—when electricity generation from wind turbines is generally lowest—to keep the blackouts at bay.

Energy expert Isaac Orr weighed in about how to bring back stability to our power grid.

“It’s Easy” To Spend Taxpayers Dollars

Why do local governments believe they need so much of your money? In recent years, Iowa property valuations have increased considerably, usually translating into increased revenue for local governments in the form of property taxes. Given the impact of inflation, we can expect this trend to continue.

Across the state, taxpayers are subject to property taxation from multiple local entities. In fact, Iowa has more than 2,000 taxing authorities, meaning property is taxed by more than one entity. Too often, different levels of local government operate in a vacuum and do not consider the aggregate impact their fiscal decisions have on the taxpayer.

This is playing out in real life for the citizens of Indianola as their city, county, and school district have all recently proposed new projects that would combine to cost property taxpayers more than $100 million in new debt. Unfortunately, one Warren County supervisor explained it would be easy to afford as long as tax revenues and property tax valuations are going up every year.

Local governments need to be aware of the collective impact their decisions have on property taxpayers and make the same difficult choices about spending money that families across the state are making every day.

Will Iowa Become a National Political Flyover State?

As Iowa Democrats fight to keep their caucuses first in 2024, it’s worth remembering that there is an even larger threat to removing Iowa’s voice from presidential elections: the National Popular Vote.

Save Our States, a group dedicated to defending the Electoral College from the National Popular Vote movement, featured ITR Foundation Policy Director John Hendrickson on their 6 Questions For… podcast with Trent England. John shared his insight on the National Popular Vote and what it would mean to Iowa politics (he also extolled the virtues of Iowa’s own Herbert Hoover). You can check out the full podcast here.

If you’d like more electoral college talk, John was a guest on the ITR Live podcast last month, where he discussed the importance of the electoral college and Iowa’s spot in the election calendar.

 Print a PDF