Those of you who live in Polk, Dallas or Warren counties will get a chance to vote on the “Destiny” tax proposal on July 10.
David Elbert describes the basics in this piece in the Sunday Register. The concept is, the sales tax would go up from 6 percent to 7 percent in the three counties. One-third of the revenues would go to “property tax relief,” one-third to fund cultural attractions like bike trails, and one-third to local governments to use on whatever they want.
The Register coverage has been mostly cheerleader pieces on how great an idea this is, and how “Yes to Destiny” would help fund the things that make Des Moines a great place to live. They've been mostly dismissive of opposition as based on knee-jerk anti-tax sentiment, or on mistrust of local governments because of things like the CIETC scandal.
As much as I hate to find myself in agreement with the Grover Norquist wing of the Republican Party, I strongly oppose this tax proposal.
For me, it's really simple. The sales tax is regressive, and raising it would impact lower and middle-income people disproportionately. In theory, property tax cuts will offset the tax hike, but corporations and high-end homeowners will get most of the benefit from property tax cuts. Renters or those who live in inexpensive homes will just be getting a tax hike.
If corporations are so excited about these cultural amenities as a way to attract quality employees, then let them fund those initiatives without demanding a property tax cut for business at the same time.
I'm all for spending more on the arts, music, and bike trails, but I'm not for raising the most regressive tax to do so. The Des Moines Partnership and Chamber of Commerce types who will wring their hands if “Destiny” fails to pass should ask the higher-income Iowans to chip in for culture.