Governor Branstad says the state’s casinos can afford the double-digit state tax increase he’s proposed.  Branstad is asking legislators to approve a new, 36 percent state tax rate for the state-licensed casinos.

“I’m confident the casinos will make it. They’ve done pretty well in this state. They’ve been very profitable entities,” Branstad said this morning during a statehouse news conference, laughing as he added: “If you look at the army of lobbyists they have, they’re not exactly hurting.” 

Branstad told reporters he “respects the jobs”at the casinos, but the governor said the 36 percent rate is less than casinos in states like Illinois pay. “So it’s not an unrealistic amount,” Branstad said.

Under current law, 15 casinos in Iowa pay a 22 percent state tax; the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs and Prairie Meadows in Altoona pay 24 percent.  An 18th casino is being built in northwest Iowa. 

Branstad’s state budget plan is designed to raise the state tax on casinos by about $200 million and then cut the state’s corporate income tax by about the same amount.