Governor Vilsack has appointed a task force to come up with a compromise that’ll solve the state’s tax problem with the race tracks in Altoona, Dubuque and Council Bluffs. The tracks successfully sued the state, arguing they were unfairly taxed at a higher rate than the riverboat casinos. Vilsack has asked Lottery director Ed Stanek and Mike Mahaffey, a lawyer from Montezuma who was chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, to lead the task force. Mahaffey says the task force will try to come up with a plan that’s “revenue neutral” so the state won’t lose lots of gambling tax revenue or have to pay out big refunds to the tracks. Mahaffey, who is currently chairman of the State Racing and Gaming Commission, admits the bottom line will likely be that the tracks will see their state taxes reduced, and the riverboats will see their taxes increased.Other members of the task force include Republican Senator Mark Zieman of Postville; Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs; Republican Representative Rod Roberts of Carroll and Representative Frank Chiodo, a Democrat from Des Moines. The group is to make its recommendation to Governor Vilsack by January 13th.
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