Property tax reform is one of the issues left unresolved when legislators adjourned their 2005 session last weekend. Representative Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale, was one of 12 legislators who met with Governor Vilsack this past spring, trying to find some breakthrough on the issue. He’s disappointed. Raecker says some of the education reforms the committee came up with would have “adjusted the rudder” and turned the education system in a new direction. The proposal included having schools save money by share more services and gradually shifting away from having property taxes pay for schools. Raecker’s hopeful Governor Vilsack will push the issue again in 2006. “I certainly think the governor’s been very supportive and it’s been an initiative that he’s been behind,” Raecker says. “It has been unique in my time at the capitol to have the governor and 12 legislators meeting for 11 weeks, where he’s facilitating the meetings. That indicates to me that it is a priority of the governor.” Senator Joel Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, served along with Raecker on the governor’s property tax reform panel.”We were really not able to get to common ground on most of the big ideas,” Bolkcom says. “There’s a lot of work left to do and I think we’re just going to have to struggle to find common agreement on the best approach.” The Iowa Chamber Alliance, a coalition of the state’s largest Chambers of Commerce, issued a statement this past week, citing its disappointment that legislators did not make any property tax reforms. Complaints from business and industrial property owners are rising as their property taxes are rising dramatically higher than the taxes on residential and farm property.
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