SAVE, the regressive current penny sales tax for school infrastructure, expires at the end of 2029. If the Legislature renews this tax, it must require:
1) schools seek voter approval for a new Revenue Purpose Statement, detailing exactly how new tax money will be spent or applying proceeds to debt repayment,
2) expiration of any RPS without an end date,
3) a 20-year sunset on the sale tax,
4) a 60 percent voter approval for new RPSs, and
5) school officials complete publicly available conflict of interest disclosures with a requirement that Iowa rigorously enforce compliance.
Some voters are rightfully concerned school boards will overly defer to an unelected superintendent, who may recommend neighborhood schools be torn down in favor of larger schools on undeveloped land (urban sprawl), especially as SAVE will provide construction jobs and spur housing development.
School officials often receive no training on conflicts of interest, gifts, kickbacks, etc. Millions flow into schools for infrastructure and technology, and many parties desire access to school contracts and children’s data. If school officials personally benefit from a party other than their district because of their government positions, the public should be informed.
SAVE is not #worth every penny, as asserted by the Iowa Association of School Boards, without accountability, and democracy works best when informed voters have meaningful input.