A 10-member group of Republicans and Democrats from the Iowa House and Senate have begun meeting to try to settle partisan differences over a wide-ranging bill that includes tax cuts. 

Representative Scott Raecker of Urbandale is co-chair of the conference committee, defending the Republican perspective on the bill. “I’m optimistic about our ability to seek resolution,” Raecker says. “It’s not going to be resolved today, but we had a good organizational meeting yesterday. We had a meeting today that staked out our positions and how we felt about them and why.”

Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City is the other co-chair of the committee, promoting the views of Democrats. “We hope that we can take the kind of reasoned approach that we did in the Senate…with the tax cut proposals we’ve presented,” Bolkcom says.

Democrats in the Senate are pushing a tax break for low-income Iowans who earn less than $45,000 a year.  Republicans in the House are pushing for creation of a new “Taxpayer Relief Fund” so unspent money at the end of the state budgeting year is deposited in that fund, and eventually returned to taxpayers in the form a tax breaks. Democrats call it a “slush” fund, but Raecker, the Republican, still believes a “positive resolution” is possible.

“I’m optimistic,” Raecker says. “I never have dgone into one of these believing they will not be successful.” 

But comments from Bolkcom, the Democrat, seem to indicate compromise at this point is still elusive. “We hope to get back on our agenda as compared to what seems to be the House Republican interest in tax give-aways to large, out-of-state corporations,” Bolkcom says. 

Governor Branstad, a Republican, has repeatedly called for cutting the state’s top corporate income tax rate in half.