August 23, 2014

“Framework” of property tax deal emerges

The Senate’s Democratic leader and the governor’s chief of staff are hailing a breakthrough in negotiations over a property tax relief plan, but House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, the top Republican in the legislature, is expressing caution.

“I don’t know whether you’d define it as a breakthrough,” Paulsen told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We continue to make progress and continue to work and I’m pleased with the progress we’re making.”

On Thursday morning Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal announced some details of the negotiated plan, including a 25 percent reduction in commercial property taxes over the next five years. Jeff Boeyink, Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s chief of staff, said that’s a reduction of up to $400 million.

“I’m confident that everybody’s on the right path in terms of what this bill’s going to look like,” Boeyink said Thursday afternoon.

According to Boeyink, the agreement is to include a limitation on residential property tax increases and a tax cut for low income Iowans along with the 25 percent reduction in commercial property taxes.

“All of us have understood that that’s what the framework’s going to look like moving forward,” Boeyink said.

But the House speaker indicated some details are still not quite settled.

“There is, I would say, a general agreement on the framework,” Paulsen said.

Here’s the new Senate bill which outlines the agreement, released Thursday afternoon.

It’s unclear what path a bill may take through the legislature, as similar proposals are being drafted in both the House and the Senate. That means either the House or the Senate could initiate the first formal, public debate of the concepts that are part of the tax package.