The two leaders in the Iowa Senate say they’re willing to return to Des Moines for a “special” session later this year if there’s some sort of break-through deal on property tax reform.
The just-concluded 2011 legislative session lasted 172 days — the third-longest session in Iowa history, but Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says he’s willing to continue discussions on the issue.
“It’s my number one priority,” Gronstal says. “That’s the number one missed opportunity of the session, to do something on commercial property taxes.”
Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinely of Chariton says it would be “most productive” for Republican Governor Terry Branstad to lead the effort and be the one to decide whether lawmakers should reconvene in special session to pass a property tax reform plan.
“I would think if there is a compromise, one agreeable to all parties that can be reached, I think that is something the governor would consider,” McKinley says.
Branstad says his primary focus is shifting to the education summit he’ll host later this month. Branstad uses the phrase “we’ll see” about the prospect of a special session.
“But I’m going to continue to work to build public awareness for the need for reforming the property tax system,” Branstad says.
The two senate leaders will appear, together, on Iowa Public Television tpnight at 7:30, and during taping of the half-hour-long “Iowa Press” program the two men debated the property tax issue. Each touted the property tax reform plan their own party had favored.
“Our focus was on giving a break to small businesses,” Gronstal said. “If they’ll recognize part of that, we’ll recognize part of what they’re looking for in terms of attracting businesses from out of state. I mean, we’ll try and work with them on that.”
McKinley replied: “Nobody’s a stronger advocate of small business than I. I was a small businessman. The problem with the Democrat plan was it was more interested in headlines than it was in realities.”
Democrats proposed a state tax credit for commercial property owners. Republicans proposed cutting commercial property tax rates by up to 40 percent. Democrats say the Republican plan benefits big, out-of-state corporations like Walmart. Republicans say the Democrats’ plan isn’t big enough to make an economic impact.