Working for ‘Right to Vote’ on Most Taxes

Published September 1, 2005

Iowans for Tax Relief’s big push now is for the People’s Right to Vote Amendment, which ITR secretary Jeffrey Boeyink said would give the people of Iowa the final say on taxes, by majority vote in a state general election.

The amendment would require voter approval for most tax and fee increases. If total tax and fee increases adopted by the legislature and governor in any fiscal year exceed 1 percent of state general fund revenue in the preceding year, all increases above that limit starting with the largest increase would go on the ballot and would not take effect unless a majority of Iowa voters approve.

Boeyink said citizens would have been able to vote on most of the big tax increases in Iowa over the past 30 years if the amendment had been in effect. Items that would have needed a majority vote for approval include:

  • a state law that added more brackets to the Iowa income tax,
  • each one-cent increase in the state sales tax, and
  • last year’s cut of more than $60 million in state transfers to local governments.

Under the amendment, any state law that requires or even allows local governments to impose or increase any property tax, income tax, or sales tax would require a vote of the people, according to Boeyink. The only exception is the annual law setting the state growth percentage for school aid. Any cut in total state funds transferred to local governments in a fiscal year, and any new or increased unfunded state mandate on local governments, also would be put to a statewide vote.

— Steve Stanek