Committee meetings are being held at the statehouse today as Senate Democrats press ahead with their plan to pass a series of bills this week that lay out their state spending and property tax plans. The differences on property tax reform are most stark.
Republicans propose a 25% cut in the tax rates on commercial and industrial property while Democrats propose a direct tax credit for business owners. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, is one of the architects of that plan. “When fully implemented, 83% of Iowa commercial property taxpayers would see their taxes cut by 45%,” Bolkcom says.
And Democrats like Bolkcom blast the G.O.P. plan as primarily benefiting big corporations, like Walmart. “The Republican plan can be fairly described as a job-killer for Iowa’s small towns,” Bolkcom says.
Representative Chris Hagenow, a Republican from Windsor Heights, defends both the G.O.P. plan and Walmart. “That business needs tax relief just like anybody else’s business,” Hagenow says. “That’s an employer in my district and there’s no reason to say they’re any less important.”
Senator Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, says property taxes will rise on all classes of property if nothing’s done. “This increase will have the most dramatic impact on seniors with fixed incomes, young families struggling to make ends meet and small business owners and entrepreneurs who have the most direct impact on Iowa’s economic future,” Whitver says.
Senate committees are scheduled to begin meeting this afternoon at 1:30. The full, 50-member senate is scheduled to convene Tuesday to debate the various budget and tax bills. Governor Branstad is out-of-state today attending a U.S. Chambers of Commerce event in Washington, D.C. Budget negotiations between the two parties broke down last week.
On Friday the governor’s staff said there is no document in the governor’s office outlining what would happen in state government if the impasse isn’t resolved by July 1st, when the new state budgeting year begins.