November 22, 2014

Tax cutting priorities among statehouse Republcians

Republican Governor Terry Branstad will deliver the annual “Condition of the State” Address later this morning and Branstad’s been hinting for weeks that he’ll use the speech to sell his property tax reform plan.

Yet many Republican legislators are anxious to do more than just cut taxes for property owners. Senator Bill Dix of Shell Rock is the new Republican leader in the senate.

“I and I think a large number of Senate Republicans are very interested in what we can do to encourage growth and development in our state and we want to look at property tax,” Dix says. “But at the same time if you really look at what punishes productivity in our state, it’s income tax.”

Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that writes tax policy.

“I think there is some pressure building from Iowans to cut both income taxes — look at some reform as well as a cut to the individual income tax,” Sands says. “We’re hearing from corporations as well, on the income side.”

Governor Brantad has repeatedly said he would prefer that legislators focus on property tax cuts rather than expanding their plans to cut other kinds of taxes. But Sands says Republican legislators don’t plan to abandon property tax reform as they also consider income tax cuts.

“Just got a phone call from somebody who has commercial property and apartnement buildings and is looking at building either in Illinois or Wisconsin, but he is not going to build in Iowa until we do something — and he lives in Iowa,” Sands says. “So there is definitely a concern and a need to stay tuned on property taxes as well.”

During a recent interview with Radio Iowa, Governor Branstad made it clear he is focused on cutting property taxes.

“Sure, I’d like to see the income tax reduced, too, but in terms of my priority — and I’ve been working on this for a couple of years and we’re really trying to perfect it — our focus is going to be on significant property tax reduction and replacement,” Branstad said a month ago.

Branstad has indicated his plan will include redirecting a chunk of the state surplus to cities and counties, to make up for lost property tax revenue if commercial property tax rates are reduced. Branstad’s “Condition of the State” speech is scheduled to start just after 10 o’clock this morning.