The 2003 Iowa Legislature convenes this morning. If campaign promises and the rhetoric from Iowa’s political leaders the past few weeks are fulfilled, the 2003 Iowa Legislature will dramatically change Iowa’s tax system. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows has said no idea’s off limits, and partisan differences have been laid aside, at least temporarily, in the effort to find some way to boost the state’s economy. Iverson says it won’t be easy to make adjustments in the tax code, as Iowans are content to keep things the same.Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the goal is to come up with a tax system that puts Iowa at a competitive advantage. He says they should put together a big committee to look at it, and may not even be able to get it done this year. Governor Tom Vilsack says “somebody’s gotta have the guts” to start making changes, and he says this group may be the ones for the job since there are so many new faces.Vilsack says Iowa’s current income tax system is an impediment to growth because it has the appearance of being higher than it actually is because Iowans re-calculate their income by deducting their federal tax bill. Vilsack, a lawyer who hasn’t done his own taxes for 20 years, says it’s time to simplify the system.The Legislature will discuss other ways to boost the state’s economy. House Democrat Leader Dick Myers of Iowa City wants economic development efforts to focus on firms that’re already doing business in Iowa.Amid the discussion about tax policy, legislators must pare about 400-MILLION dollars from the state’s budget. Libby Jacobs of Des Moines, the Republican Whip in the House, says lawmakers will have to prioritize.Jacobs says legislators will have to decide what’s most important and absolutely necessary for the safety and welfare of Iowans, and what’s “nice to have” but not essential.
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