Tempers flared yesterday as legislators wrangle over tax policy and economic development initiatives that could become casualties as lawmakers work toward adjourning the 2003 Legislative session this week. Republican leaders in the Senate have insisted since January that the Legislature must enact income tax reform, yet the Senate has failed to pass a bill. House Speaker Christopher Rants, the top Republican in the House, yesterday proposed an income tax plan of his own and it passed a House Committee late last night. Rants says it’s an attempt to meet the Senate part-way.Rants says it’s a “good faith effort” to try to get the issue resolved. But the move angered Senate Republican Leaders and they were harshly critical of the House income tax plan. Senate President Mary Kramer, a republican from Clive, used the word “testy” to describe lawmakers’ attitudes. Kramer says it’s difficult to see how the House income tax plan would be a “growth strategy” for the state since it wouldn’t go into effect immediately. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says a delay is unacceptable. He says you have to change the climate in Iowa if you want different results.Meanwhile, Governor Tom Vilsack spent much of his day meeting privately with legislators to try to build agreement on his number one priority: creation of a new state economic development fund. And Vilsack now says he’s willing to accept the idea of raising the cigarette tax to finance the project rather than having the state borrow the money. Vilsack says he’s not quitting until the job is done.
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