February 14, 2016

House speaker calls Senate Democrats’ tax plan “a piece of junk” (audio)

The problems in behind-the-scenes negotiations to end the 2012 Iowa legislative session were aired in public this weekend. 

For several weeks the top Republican in the legislature has made low-key public statements about working with Senate Democrats and Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

“We continue to make progress. We continue to work and I’m pleased with the progress we’re making,” House Speaker Kraig Paulsen told reporters last Thursday afternoon.

But Paulsen’s tone was remarkably different when he spoke at an Iowa GOP fundraiser Saturday night.

“Maybe you saw some of this in the news reports this week that House Republicans were not team players. I don’t know. That all depends on who the team is now, isn’t it?” Paulsen said. “If the team is government and bureaucrats and growing government and all the things in the intellectual and political elite, then no. We’re not team players because that’s not the team we’re on.”

AUDIO of Paulsen’s speech, followed by remarks from House GOP Leader Linda Upmeyer.

In particular, Paulsen focused on developments at the end of last week on property tax reform. The top Democrat in the Senate and Republican Governor Terry Branstad suggested negotiations had reached a point where a “framework” had emerged, but Paulsen made clear on Saturday night nothing much had changed.

“You see the Senate try to roll this bill out. ‘It’s a compromise bill. Everyone’s on board.’ Let me tell you: everybody’s not on board,” Paulsen said. “It’s a piece of junk, doesn’t protect the home owner and it provides no certainty to the employers — and House Republicans will not pass that bill.”

On Friday, Jeff Boeyink  — the governor’s chief of staff — said there were “significant differences” between the bill Senate Democrats are proposing and the one Paulsen and his House Republicans favor, but Boeyink said everyone was “committed to getting this worked out over the next week to ensure this unique opportunity to reduce property taxes…is not wasted.”

The 2011 legislative session ended with the same sort of impasse on property tax reform. And, according to Paulsen, last year’s partisan showdown over the budget continues as well.

“We’re fighting about money,” Paulsen said Saturday night in Des Moines. “We were fighting about money last year and we consistently, consistently had to rebuff efforts to just push the puzzle pieces around, try to find a different way to spend money.”

Paulsen spoke to a crowd of over 250 Iowa Republicans who were in Des Moines for a Saturday evening fundraising banquet.

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