As the Iowa State Daily Editorial Board noted in one of our first editorials of the academic year, Governor Kim Reynolds must explain how tuition increases can coincide with corporate tax cuts to companies worth billions. Gov. Reynolds seemed quick to react in partial to the Editorial Board’s request as she happily announced tax breaks for Apple’s new data center slated to be built in Waukee.
Apple, which announced its new iPhone X worth $999 on Tuesday, will earn “about $4.26 million per permanent full-time position it creates at the Waukee data center,” according to the Des Moines Register. That is money from local and state governments that could be going toward education spending in both the local communities and here at Iowa State.
In the third quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, Apple recorded a quarterly revenue of $45.4 billion. Gov. Reynolds stated “they chose Iowa.” This begs the question, did Apple choose Iowa because of our state's values and ethics? Did Apple choose Waukee because of their community and talent? Or, did Apple choose Iowa because the state governor and local mayor were willing to shell out millions of dollars to create around 50 new jobs with a big-name corporation?
The fact of the matter is that Apple will build its data center in Waukee and enjoy billions of dollars worth of tax credits while local Iowa families struggle to pay a 40% tuition increase at Iowa State over the next five years. The state legislature failed to appropriate enough funds for our state universities while offering billions of dollars in tax credits to the largest corporations in the world.
We now can ask Gov. Reynolds and the state legislature who they represent. Do they represent the special interest of 50 workers at an Apple data center in Waukee? Or, do they represent the tens of thousands of Iowa students in state universities? The Editorial Board recognizes that this is not necessarily an either/or issue. Iowa can offer corporate tax breaks to bring jobs to the state. However, it is irresponsible to give potential state dollars away when Iowa students are facing a 40% tuition increase directly linked to the state’s inability to fund higher education.
The state of Iowa just went through a round of budget cuts in the last legislative session and is facing new budget challenges in the months ahead. It should be clear for all students of Iowa State, Gov. Reynolds chose Apple over affordable college.