Republican Governor Terry Branstad is defending his plan for reducing commercial property taxes and he’s calling on legislators to take immediate steps to limit potential property tax increases for ag land and homes.
Under current state law, the value of farmland and residential property are tied together.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you look at commodity prices for this five-year rolling average, you’re going to see a significant roll-up in valuation,” Branstad says.
Cities have criticized Branstad’s plan to reduce commercial property taxes, saying it will be a half-a-billion dollars hit to city budgets over the next five years. Branstad’s Department of Management has made a different calculation.
“Government is one of the few areas where a $437 million increase in revenue is considered a cut, but that’s what they’re going to get is a $437 million increase in (property tax) revenue,” Branstad says. “And we think that’s a conservative estimate.’
Branstad released the data at his weekly news conference and used the event to increase pressure on legislators to adopt his property tax proposal. Branstad also suggested legislators would be better served by actually meeting in Des Moines. Only legislative leaders are at the capitol today and there’s no debate scheduled in either the House or Senate.
“I think the legislature needs to get serious about focusing on the important issues that need to be resolved,” Branstad said this morning.
However, Branstad said it’s “not usual” for the governor and legislators to be at an impasse over key spending and tax issues at this time of year. In 1992, Branstad and legislators didn’t adopt a state budget plan until June 26th — just four days before the next budgeting year started on July 1st.
“You know, I’m willing to put in the time and the effort to meet with whoever I need to meet with to help us work things out like we did in ’92,” Branstad said.
The Democrat who leads the Senate Appropriations Committee issued a written statement, saying Iowans should be worried because the chances of a state government shut down are increasing. Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Iowa City, accused Branstad of proposing a “starvation budget for Iowa schools and all over government services.”
Listen to today’s news conference: BranstadMay9