More than 200 protest Branstad’s pro-corporate agenda

Hundreds of Everyday People Say Branstad’s Iowa Isn’t Working For Them

More than 200 CCI Action Fund members brave winter weather to travel to Des Moines and protest Governor Branstad’s budget and pro-corporate agenda

More than 200 everyday Iowans braved winter weather conditions Tuesday to travel to the state capitol in Des Moines and protest Governor Branstad’s pro-corporate agenda during a “People First Iowa” day of action organized by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund.  A 2:30pm meeting with gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch is scheduled at the Henry Wallace Building Auditorium.

CCI Action Fund members used their annual rally and lobby day to call on state policymakers to raise the minimum wage, close corporate tax loopholes, end predatory payday lending, crack down on wage theft, get big money out of politics, and give local control of factory farms to rural communities.

The gathered crowds also took exception to Branstad’s claims that “Iowa is working” and retorted that the state of Iowa under the governor’s leadership is only working for big corporations and factory farm polluters, not for everyday people, hardworking families, or the environment.

Earlier in the day, Branstad admitted that his corporate property tax cuts – widely considered to be a signature achievement of his administration – would burn up the state’s surplus fund over five years, but he also claimed against all evidence that economic growth over the same period would prevent the state from running a deficit after the surplus was depleted.

CCI Action Fund members quickly jumped on the comments and said the governor was trying to have it both ways.

“Branstad’s claim that his corporate property tax cuts will spend down our surplus over five years but that economic growth over the same period will prevent the state from running a deficit is straight out of the “magical confidence fairy” school of economics,” said Ross Grooters, a CCI Action Fund member from Pleasant Hill.

“The state surplus simply isn’t big enough to pay the cost of Branstad’s corporate property tax cuts year after year after year, even with modest annual economic growth, particularly if we also want to continue to invest in critical public services like education, environmental protections, and infrastructure.  We have to raise new revenue by making the very wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”

Yesterday, CCI Action Fund members in coordination with the Iowa Policy Project released an alarming analysis of Iowa’s long-term budget outlook that shows an initial $88.8 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2015 that will have to be covered by dipping into Iowa’s surplus fund in order to pay for the start-up costs of Branstad’s corporate property tax cuts, set at $135.9 million in FY15 but scheduled to grow to $277 million next year, eventually peaking out at an unsustainable $380 million per year.

The Iowa Policy Project analysis is available here:  Iowa Budget Dilemma, while Iowa CCI Action Fund’s interpretation of the IPP numbers is here: Branstad’s budget shortfall raises serious red flags.  Iowa’s surplus exists because of deep, across-the-board spending cuts enacted by former governor Chet Culver in the wake of the 2008 recession followed by a recovering economy.  But now the money is being given away to out of state corporations rather than reinvesting in the critical services that faced cuts years ago.

The findings raise serious questions about Iowa’s long-term budget outlook, cast doubt on Governor Branstad’s claim to be a responsible manager of state government, and add momentum to demands made by CCI Action Fund members and others that Iowa must raise new revenue from the very wealthy and big corporations in order to fully fund the vital public services that everyday people and hardworking families depend on.

CCI Action Fund members released in December a “People First Iowa” blueprint for the state that includes tax policies to force factory farms and other out-of-state corporations to begin paying their fair share of taxes – and suggests the new revenue could be used to fully fund public services.  The “People First Iowa” initiative includes:

·         Raising the minimum wage – more personal income means a larger tax base, and more money in workers’ back pockets means more demand, which creates more spending;

·         Combined corporate reporting – to close a loophole in Iowa tax code that allows out-of-state corporations like WalMart and McDonalds to avoid paying income taxes on sales generated in Iowa;

·         Ending the Research and Development Tax Credit, which gives out-of-state corporations like John Deere and Rockwell Collins a tax credit so large that they end up receiving a rebate check from state government rather than actually paying any taxes themselves;

·         Closing three tax loopholes that factory farm polluters get on their manure pits, animal feed, and electricity.  The pollution control tax exemption is a revenue drain on county government that, if ended, could produce new revenue to fix county roads damaged by factory farm trucks, while the state tax credits for animal feed and confinement electricity could be better spent on finding new initiatives to help young farmers, women farmers, and immigrant farmers get affordable access to land and diversified markets.

·         Passing a Corporate Tax Transparency Act that would require publicly traded companies doing business in Iowa to publicly post the state taxes they pay, or don’t pay, so that everyone knows.

Iowa CCI Action Fund is a grassroots, statewide people’s action group that believes community and political organizing is the most effective way to build a more just and democratic society that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.

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