The leader of the state’s large city chambers of commerce says the 2005 Iowa Legislature should quit the partisan fights and try to resolve the state’s more vexing problems. Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce president and C-E-O Ron Corbett is also the chair of the Iowa Chamber Alliance. He says it’s time to attack “politically-charged” issues like tax reform, business development and redistribution of the state gas tax money that’s used on road construction projects. “Every year the legislature has a certain amount of challenges and sometimes they rise to the occasion and take on some pretty significant pieces of legislation,” Corbett says. “Unfortunately, sometimes, they just do the (state) budget and go home. We hope that this isn’t one of the years where they just do the budget and go home.” Corbett and his fellow chamber executives are calling on legislators to re-establish the “Iowa Values Fund” that handed out large state grants to businesses until the fund was nullified this summer by a court ruling. “Obviously this Iowa Values Fund is important from an economic development standpoint,” Corbett says. “But more basic, we need to see some tax reform, specifically in the area of property tax relief.” Corbett says unfortunately, republican legislators and the democratic governor have been feuding the past couple of years. Corbett says there’ve been lawsuits, special legislative sessions, and a lot of hard feelings. “Now’s the time to put the partisan bickering aside and face some of these key issues,” Corbett says. One key issue the Chamber Alliance has been pressing: giving urban areas a greater share of state road construction money from the gas tax fund. Corbett says there are some pretty important highways, like Highway 20 and Highway 30, that need to be four-lane all the way across the state and he says that’s not going to happen unless the legislature gets serious about redistributing the road fund. The Iowa Chamber Alliance members include chambers and economic development organizations in Ames, Bettendorf, Burlington/West Burlington, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Waterloo.
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