Early this morning, Republicans in the Iowa House passed a mammoth package that would cut Iowans’ income taxes by about 300-million and spend about 500-million in state money over the next few years to support business development. Republican Representative Clarence Hoffman of Charter Oak says the state has to do something to change the tide. Hoffman says legislators are in a position to move the state forward. “This is the moment. This is the time,” Hoffman said. Republican Representative Scott Raecker of Urbandale says there are things in the bill that will help grow Iowa’s economy. Raecker says he’s not sure the legislation will change the course of Iowa’s future, but he says doing nothing is not an option. Representative Janet Peterson, a democrat from Des Moines, joined all the House Democrats in voting against the package. Peterson says the bill was “a piece of roadkill” and lawmakers were being asked to “throw some ketchup and mustard on it and swallow it.” Representative Ed Fallon, a democrat from Des Moines, says too many subjects had been “muddled together” into one bill. Fallon says it’s not the way the legislature should work, and the episode “challenges the credibility” of the legislature. Republicans decided to use Iowa’s share of the federal economic stimulus package to bankroll the first two years of the new state economic development fund. Representative Robert Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the state should have sent some of that money to cities and counties to make up for the cut in state aid to local governments.Hogg says legislators have “screwed over” local governments and cut at the heart of public safety by forcing police and fire fighter layoffs. But Republican Representative Dave Heaton of Mount Pleasant says it makes sense to use that federal money on a plan to stimulate Iowa’s economy. He says there are people who’re confused about what they’re doing, but he says they have to do something to kick start the economy.Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack called legislators back into special session last week to debate the economic growth ideas, and Vilsack says he’s reserving judgment on the package until he gets to read through it. After waiting all day for the details to be ironed out, the House began debating in earnest last night at about 10:30; passed one bill at 12:15 this morning; then the second at a quarter ’til two. The Iowa Senate’s scheduled to debate and pass the two bills today.
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