Democrats in the Iowa House say Democrat Governor Chet Culver’s plans for reining in commercial property taxes do not go far enough. House Democrats are inviting Republicans to serve on a bipartisan panel to try to come up with solutions. Lawmakers of both parties say Iowa businesses are suffering because the state’s commercial property taxes are too high compared to other states.
Representative Phil Wise, a Democrat from Keokuk, admits there are no easy answers. "All of the options have potential pitfalls but we’ve come to the conclusion that the status quo is more damaging than tackling any of those pitfalls, whether it be to the state treasury or to the revenues of local government," Wise says. House members will hold hearings in the coming weeks to try to find the best way to lower commercial property taxes without raising taxes on homeowners or on agricultural property.
A commission appointed by Governor Culver has recommended 25-million dollars in commercial property tax relief this year. "The governor himself is proposing another, more rigorous study of the system but we can’t wait for a report to come out in 2008 or 2009," Wise says. "We need to do something now." Former Governor Tom Vilsack also convened a bipartisan task force of lawmakers two years ago in hopes of devising a way of reducing property taxes.
Representative Wise serves as the chairman of this latest group to tackle the problem. Other members are Representatives Dave Deyoe of Nevada, Clarence Hoffman of Denison, Doris Kelley of Waterloo, Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids, Brian Quirk of New Hampton, Mike Reasoner of Creston, Doug Struyk of Council Bluffs, and Jamie Van Fossen of Davenport.