Governor Chet Culver says he wants to extend a property tax break to “thousands” more elderly Iowans.

This past year Culver and state legislators sent $23 million in state tax money to local governments to provide a property tax credit to seniors and disabled Iowans who own their own homes. To be eligible, a homeowner had to be at least 65 years old or totally disabled — and  they had to have an annual income of less than $20,000.  Culver wants to send another $7 million to cities and counties next year for this credit, for a total infusion of $30 million in state tax money. “So we can cover and allow more seniors on fixed income to qualify for that tax credit,” Culver says. 

Culver also is pledging to close a loophole which some “assisted living facilities” have used to avoid government scrutiny. “And we’re going to require that those assisted living facilities comply completely with state law in terms of inspections and oversight, including allowing the state ombudsman to have access to consumers and residents of those facilities,” Culver says.

Culver also promises to ask federal officials for more waivers which have allowed Iowa seniors to have their home-based care paid for through Medicaid. 

Branstad campaign manager Jeff Boeyink issued a statement this afternoon. “Chet Culver does not understand that the tax bill on his overspending came due last Thursday in the form of property taxes,” Boeyink said. “He is hoping that sleight of hands and budget tricks will divert attention from his reckless and irresponsible management.”

Culver made his comments earlier today after taping an interview on senior issues at Iowa Public Television.  Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad will be at IPTV tomorrow afternoon to tape his half-hour-long segment in the series, which is sponsored by AARP. The two segments will air, back-to-back, Friday night at 8:30 on IPTV. 

Listen to Culver’s news conference after today’s taping: CulverNewsConfMP3

(This story was updated at 3:24 p.m.)