The Iowa House has begun debate of a bill that will lay out state spending plans for the next two years.
“With this bill, the House Republicans and the governor have crafted a responsible budget to provide a resolution to the budget stalemate,” said Representative Nick Wagner of Marion who is leading debate for the GOP.
Democrats in the Senate have called the plan a “small step forward” but there is no guarantee Democrats who control the Senate’s debate agenda will even consider the bill. The new state budgeting year starts in a few weeks, on July 1 and Wagner suggested Democrats “are not in a compromising mood.”
“Our plan in the House and in the governor’s office is not to shut down government,” Wagner said. “Our plan is to do our job and pass a budget that Iowans want and is responsible for Iowans.”
According to Wagner, Democrats and Republicans are further apart than when negotiations started a couple of months ago.
“Unfortunately we haven’t had any proposals brought to us to end the budget stalemate other than, ‘We want to spend more,” Wagner said. “We’re made it pretty clear where our line is. We’re made it pretty clear that we’re o.k. to move things around (under) that line, but unfortunately all we get is talk of shut-down and, ‘We want to spend more.'”
The Republican plan sets a $6 billion lid on the state budget for the coming year, rolling back to the spending levels of 2008. Republicans are also attaching tax policy to the bill, including a massive plan to reduce commercial and industrial property taxes by 25 percent over the next five years. Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat from Coralville, isn’t impressed.
“Let me use some strong words and this is for all of us. This is not partisan in any way. Frankly, I think in some ways we’re being wimps,” Jacoby said. “We’re being wimps in terms of not tackling the true issues of property tax reform.”
Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, defended the GOP’s property tax reform plan.
“It will be a significant impact and incentive for businesses to not only go out there and invest in their communities,” Baltimore said, “but also will hopefully generate new construction that will, in turn, stimulate the economy through construction jobs and also be an important tool for local economic development.”
The House is scheduled to vote on this package of taxing and spending proposals this afternoon.