The Iowa Legislature’s top republican is proposing a statewide property tax to finance a billion dollar state economic development fund. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, wants to siphon off two-and-a-half percent of the expected growth in the value of homes, farms and business property over the next 20 years — money that would have gone to cities, counties and schools. Rants says it’s different from the idea of raising the cigarette tax because it doesn’t “segregate out” smokers to back a fund that’ll benefit everybody. Rants conceeds it’s a big idea. Rants says the state has never attempted a program or initiative of this size. Some key republicans in the Senate aren’t wild about the idea of a statewide property tax.Jeff Lamberti, a republican from Ankeny who’s chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. favors raising the cigarette tax. Lamberti is willing to consider the idea of a statewide property tax, though. Lamberti says he won’t rule the option out, but he wants to ensure the net effect isn’t a property tax increase. This morning at eight o’clock, a group of Senators plans to reveal their own alternative for raising the bucks for the economic development fund. In January, Governor Tom Vilsack proposed a 500-million dollar state economic development fund to entice high-tech business to stay or build facilities in Iowa.
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