DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa Democrats claim a property tax bill will undermine the state's public pension system, despite the bill not having any direct impact on the program.
The bill aimed at making property tax increases more transparent passed the Iowa Senate and is now on the Governor's desk. After it passed, Iowa Democrats decried it for undermining the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, or IPERS.
The bill requires local governments pass a resolution if it wants to raise tax revenues more than 2% from the previous year. Local Governments already have to vote to approve the budget and the property tax rate each year, which is why critics called the bill red tape. Supporters argued it makes it easier for people to understand whether they will pay more in taxes.
Democrats opposed to the bill also attacked it as a threat to IPERS. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, who also sits on the IPERS Investment Board, argued the change will set up conflicts between the mandatory cost of IPERS and other projects, like road repairs. He argues that could make people more critical of the state's pension system.
"There are organizations and politicians that want to undermine the system in an effort to make significant changes in the future," Fitzgerald argued. "While this bill does not specifically change IPERS today, it potentially puts public pension funds, like IPERS, in a negative light."
However, the text of the bill does not include any provision regarding IPERS and does not change the state-mandated funding and payouts for the program. IPERS Administrators issued a statement on the bill, attempting to clear up confusion that the bill directly impacted the pension program.
"This bill does not alter the employers' obligation to pay the employer portion of IPERS' contributions as established annually," the statement read. "This bill does not affect a member's or retiree's pension."