Sodders: State must be careful with surplus

With the surplus in state funds nearing $1 billion, Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, said there is talk in the Legislature on the many different ways to spend it.

House Republicans want to give it back to the taxpayers in a tax credit, but Sodders isn’t too sure about doing that. He cited a time in the 1980s when money was given back to Iowans, then taxes were raised two years later.

“We really have got to think this out before we do that,” Sodders said.

Sodders and Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, participated in a public forum Saturday at the Tremont.

Smith said any action taken with the surplus should go to help people get out of poverty or help the middle class.

“It’s hard to justify raising taxes in some areas when we have this kind of surplus available,” Smith said.

The Senate passed a state-funded 4 percent allowable growth rate this year for school districts in a move supported by Sodders to help school districts plan their budgets. Smith said it will probably not see the light of day in the House, but he would like to see it passed.

“If we don’t act then that falls back more heavily on property taxes,” Smith said.

Sodders said he doesn’t see any changes on speed camera laws in the state and doesn’t foresee any chance of the implementation of a death penalty either.

“It won’t go anywhere,” Sodders said of the death penalty talk.

Both legislators were asked if they had any notion to run for the U.S. Senate, which was topical since Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has recently announced his retirement for 2014.

Both Sodders and Smith said they don’t plan to run for the U.S. Senate but they would support U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, if he decides to run for the open seat.