February 9, 2016

Governor says tax talks “a very delicate situation” (audio)

Republican Governor Terry Branstad is striking a much more conciliatory tone than Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen when it comes to property tax reform negotiations.

Paulsen is the top Republican in the legislature and this weekend he referred to a proposal from Senate Democrats as “a piece of junk.” This morning, Branstad said negotiators have agreed on a general “framework” for a deal.

“The Senate draft doesn’t exactly match our understanding of that framework,” Branstad said, “but we’re interested in working with both the House and the Senate to resolve the differences.”

Branstad told reporters he’s “not going to criticize anybody” involved in the private negotiations on this issue.

“This is a very delicate situation and I respect the responsibility and the prerogatives of both the House and the Senate and I know they’re controlled by two different parties and that means we need to work with…Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate to get this resolved,” Branstad said. “I think most Iowans expect us to work together to resolve these partisan differences. They’re tired of partisan gridlock.”

The Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Taxpayers Association issued written statement this weekend, endorsing the House Republicans’ approach over the one Senate Democrats proposed last Thursday. Branstad said he has some concerns about the Democrats’ plan, particularly the approach of the state giving tax credits rather than a reduction in the property tax rates on commercial property..

“This is something that needs to be done,” Branstad said. “It’s unfinished business from last year and I think everybody needs to work in good faith to resolve the differences and get it done.”

AUDIO of governor’s remarks on this topic during a news conference this morning.

Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds plan to hold five town hall meetings around the state this week to build public pressure on legislators on the property tax issue.  Branstad and Reynolds will host a Buchanan County town hall meeting in Independence at noon today and a Fayette County town hall event in Oelwein at 2 p.m.  The two will hold similar events in Elkader, Waukon and Decorah on Tuesday.

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