Iowa lawmakers begin what many hope will be the last week of the 2003 Legislative session. Legislators put off ’til the end making major decisions on tax reform and economic growth ideas, and it’s unclear whether those issues will be dealt with or left undone. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack and Republican House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City are speaking with virtually one voice, calling for action.The Governor says lawmakers can’t ask Iowans to accept deep cuts in state spending that’ll be felt in decreased services without providing some hope through tax reform and the new economic development initiative that there are better days ahead. Rants, the top Republican in the Iowa House, agrees. Rants says Iowans expect lawmakers to “take some risks” and do something to stimulate the economy and, as Vilsack says, provide some hope that the future will be better But Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows seems to favor the alternative — just approving a state budget plan and nothing else. It was Iverson who last December said he wanted to start with a “blank sheet of paper” and completely redo Iowa’s tax system. Iverson says the reason things haven’t come together is because there’s no bipartisan agreement on what should be done.Iverson says he will not be disappointed if lawmakers fail to reach a deal on tax reform or the new state economic initiative. Iverson says he’d be willing to bet 60 percent of Iowans oppose creation of a nearly billion dollar fund to hand out to businesses and build research facilities that’d attract businesses to the state. Iverson says “most of us in Iowa say we want to progress, without making any change.” At the end of last week, Vilsack provided a “framework” for compromise on income tax reform which would call for a vote this week on simplifying and cutting state income taxes. Vilsack proposes waiting ’til next year to figure out which other taxes to raise to make up for the 300-million dollar income tax cut.
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