Senate Democrats say Republican Governor Terry Branstad must be willing to negotiate with Democrats over property tax reform. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the governor’s “my way of the highway” approach isn’t working.
“I mean, this is a guy that isn’t afraid to draw the line in the sand and I’m pushing back and saying, ‘Look, governor, we won an election, too, and if you want to play that game, I’ll play it with you,'” McCoy told reporters today. “And so if he wants property tax relief this year — if that’s one of his priorities — then he’s going to have to come to the table and negotiate, which is a new word for him.”
Today, McCoy and another Democrat in the Senate gave initial subcommittee approval to a bill that would extend 250-million dollars worth of property tax credits to Iowa commercial property owners. Republicans like Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull favor a direct reduction in commercial property tax rates rather than the tax credit.
“The tax credit might be a bit of a band-aid, it might be a bit of a fix,” Feenstra said today during a senate subcommittee meeting, “but it doesn’t address what really is the problem.”
Democrats like McCoy say nine out of 10 businesses get more from their tax credit than they would from Branstad’s deal.
“I do have a message for the governor, that if this is the year that he thinks he’s going to cram his plan this down our throats, that style of negotiation isn’t going to be helpful,” McCoy said during the subcommittee meeting, “for him or for us.”
The governor’s communications director says Branstad “is pleased that all parties continue to express a commitment to accomplishing significant property tax relief,” but Tim Albrecht says Branstad “does not believe finger-pointing and accusations are particularly helpful.”
Republicans like Feenstra say a key flaw in the Democrats’ plan is the tax credit is only available when the state is flush with $250 million in extra cash.
“You know, you can put it out there. It’s sexy, but if they’re not going to get any money, it’s not going to work,” Feenstra said.
Republicans in the House have begun working on a bill that would implement that governor’s plan. The Democrats’ alternate commercial property tax credit proposal will be considered in a senate committee sometime in the next two weeks.
(This story was updated at 2:48 p.m. with additional information)