Republicans in the Iowa Senate are proposing a five-year property tax break for Iowans who make home improvements. Senator Pat Ward, a Republican from West Des Moines, says that would be a real shot in the arm for the construction industry.
"We believe this is important, number one, to encourage homeowners to make those improvements," Ward says. "(It) really rewards all homeowners that have pursued the American dream of owning their own home." The Republicans in the Iowa Senate also suggest redirecting one percent of the withholding tax businesses pay into a worker re-training fund.
Senator Steve Kettering, a Republican from Lake View, suggests that would create a 24-million dollar pot of money to help workers gain new skills. "It’s well-documented that in the next five years we face a shortage of skilled workers to the tune of about 150,000 and as we transition into the new economy, it’s going to be vital that we have an educated workforce to offer our employers," Kettering says.
These two ideas follow proposals Republicans floated last week, including a bid to expand the state’s sales-tax-free weekend in August to cover all sales, not just sales of apparel. The proposals, however, aren’t likely to go far as Republicans hold just 20 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate, giving Democrats control over the debate agenda.
Those Democrats say state officials should wait to see the contents of the economic stimulus package making its way through congress before acting at the state level. Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck of Sioux City says he’s tired of that line from statehouse Democrats. "They want to continue to sit around on their hands and wait for someone else," Wieck says.