The Iowa House is scheduled to debate two bills today, both of which aim to reduce property taxes. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says the first bill would reduce commercial property taxes by about 40 percent over five years.

“If you are a property taxpayer in the state of Iowa, you will see property tax relief from that bill,” he says, “so it also addresses residential, agriculture and industrial (property).” 

Governor Branstad has offered a slightly different approach, with the main goal of reducing property taxes on commercial buildings. Senate Democrats have endorsed a dramatically different aproach, providing a property tax credit to small business owners. 

“The governor’s plan, in the end, we believe is a dramatic property tax shift,” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says.

Gronstal warns cities faced with declining commercial property tax revenue will start collecting more property taxes from homeowners to make up the difference.  Branstad disputes those statistics and prodded all legislators to come back to Des Moines to work on a variety of unresolved issues.

“I would like to see the legislature make as much progress as farmers did in planting corn in the last week,” Branstad said Monday, with Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds laughing at his side, adding “There you go.”

Branstad continued a few moments later: “Our farmers, when they get serious about planting corn, can do it and I think the legislature, if they get serious about resolving these issues, can do it in a relatively short period of time.”

Neither the House nor Senate met on Monday. The House is scheduled to convene at 8:30 this morning and debate the property tax bill this afternoon as well as a bill that would “redesign” of the way mental health services are delivered in Iowa. That bill has property tax implications, too. The measure would see the state take over the responsibility of paying for mental health services for indigent Iowans, costs that are now borne by property taxpayers at the county level.

The full Senate is not scheduled to meet again until Thursday.