An Iowa House committee is expected to approved a key component of the state budget this week — the amount of general state aid for public K-through-12 schools. Democrats say they’ll adopt a four percent increase over last year’s level.
That means schools will see another 100-million dollars from the state, triggering a 40- to 45-million dollar increase in property taxes statewide. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says the legislature should provide that extra money rather than putting the burden on property taxpayers.
"We should not go through this session adding to the problem," Rants says. "We should go through this session trying to reduce (the property tax burden) and put some money in property taxpayers’ pockets." Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs.
Gronstal says Rants is proposing a mere band-aid on the property tax system when what’s needed is an overhaul. "It’s a big problem. The size of the problem is probably in the neighborhood of a billion dollars," Gronstal says. "We will not find a billion dollar solution this year."
The problem has worsened in the past year as residential property tax rates are tied to farmland values. Since farmland is selling at higher prices, homeowners are paying higher property taxes. And commercial property owners complain their tax rates are out-of-whack, too.