The owners of a proposed race track in Newton will get a 12-and-a-half million dollar state tax break once the track opens. The Iowa House this (Wednesday) afternoon gave final legislative approval to a bill that would grant a sales tax rebate on ticket and concession sales at the track. Representative Danny Carroll, a Republican from Grinnell, says the motor speedway will boost the number of tourists who come to Iowa. “Iowa suffers from a lack of significant tourist attractions,” Carroll says. “This is an opportunity that I think we should take advantage of.” The state won’t grant the tax rebate if Iowans don’t own at least a 60 percent stake in the track, and sales taxes collected on the meals served at a restaurant in the track complex will not be refunded, either. “This was an effort to protect existing restaurant businesses in the Newton area,” Carroll says. In addition, the bill makes it clear this sales tax rebate is just for the Newton track and not available for other tourism venues in the state. Carroll says state tax and economic development officials are to review the Newton project and the sales tax rebate, and tell legislators whether it was an effective use of tax dollars. Representative Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, opposed the move. Hogg says there’s nothing in the bill that forces the track developers to demonstrate they need the 12-and-a-half million to make a go of the operation. The bill cleared the House on a 83-16 vote this afternoon. The Senate approved the bill last night. Governor Tom Vilsack’s press secretary says the governor will sign the bill into law.
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