A question was also raised about a gas tax increase. The panel did not seem to be supportive of a gas tax increase.
“Sixty-three percent of Iowans are against it,” VanderLinden said. He would not support a gas tax increase unless it was offset by a tax reduction in some other area. Sheets questioned why no action has been taken on the gas tax for 25 years.
Sinclair, who lives in Wayne County, which is on the border with Missouri, said counties like hers lose business to neighboring states when taxes become too high. Much of her district is also rural, and the state’s funding formula for gas tax revenue distribution is not favorable to rural areas.
“I can’t support the gas tax,” Sinclair said. VanderLinden said a 10 cent increase would not provide any significant benefit to improving Iowa’s infrastructure, but would increase the burden on Iowans.
The legislators were critical of the Democrats’ budget proposal, which would increase spending by 11 percent. Republicans seek a spending increase of 3 percent, which still bothers them.
“An 11 percent increase in the state budget is unacceptable,” Rozenboom said. He said this would spend $200 million more than anticipated state revenue, though Democrats believe the state has a “surplus” that should be spent.
“This is like spending $1.05 for every dollar taken in,” Sheets added.
VanderLinden, who is in his second term in the House, said the state had a $9 billion deficit when he came in, which has been erased, while reserve funds are full.
“It’s going to be a very hard fit to get the House to move up at all,” VanderLinden said. He is disappointed that the state’s bottom line never goes down, and that the budget increases every year. For those spending items that can be justified, he would prefer to keep the spending below revenue.