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Iowa’s GOP Governor Vetoes Tax Break For The Poor Because It Didn’t Lower Corporate Taxes

By Marie Diamond  

"Iowa’s GOP Governor Vetoes Tax Break For The Poor Because It Didn’t Lower Corporate Taxes"

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Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R)

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has a curious justification for vetoing a tax break last week for 240,000 Iowa families making $45,000 or less a year: the plan didn’t also include a tax break for corporations. Members of both parties in the Iowa House and Senate agreed to increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which reduces the amount of income taxes lower-income families owe:

The change would have saved Iowa families an estimated $28.5 million in taxes over two years.

Branstad vetoed that part of the bill writing that it is his desire to approach tax policy in a more comprehensive and holistic manner. [...]

Branstad additionally campaigned last year to slash Iowa’s corporate income tax rate by 50 percent, which he said would attract businesses while costing the state about $200 million a year in lost revenue. That proposal also failed.

Ironically, given Branstad’s fondness for expensive corporate tax breaks, he said he was concerned about the cost of the measure, estimated at $28.5 million a year. Branstad explained that he would only support “an overall tax reduction package that both fits within our sound budgeting principles while reducing those taxes that are impeding our state’s ability to compete for new business and jobs.”

Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for the governor, reiterated that Branstad would have supported the tax break if it had been part of a “larger effort” that included lower taxes for corporations. But since this tax break was only for poor families, Branstad suddenly abandoned his “strong support for tax relief.”

Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D), the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, points out that the EITC “is the most effective antipoverty program for working families.” Bolkcom said of Branstad’s veto, “He has again shown that he will only consider tax cuts that benefit Iowa’s wealthiest citizens and corporations.” The tax break for working families would have translated into more money for people to spend in Iowa’s economy, but Branstad apparently prefers “huge, unaffordable tax breaks for Wal-Mart and other wealthy out-of-state corporations.”

Branstad has the authority to veto individual items in spending measures. He also effectively shut down dozens of unemployment offices by vetoing language that would have prohibited the Iowa Workforce Development from closing 37 unemployment field offices across the state.

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