Tax reform and economic development are at the top of the list of legislative priorities for a group representing the chambers of commerce of the state’s largest cities. Iowa Chamber Alliance president, Ken Anderson, says tax reform is vital to the state’s economy.

“In order to compete with other states, regions and countries, Iowa must improve its business tax climate,” Anderson says, “The number one thing that can help achieve this is property tax relief for commercial and industrial property taxpayers. Iowa’s tax system ranks in the top two states for the highest business property taxes. This is unacceptable.”

Anderson is the director of the Marshalltown chamber. I.C.A. executive director, John Stineman, says they endorse both tax reform proposals in the last legislative session in an effort to get something moving. “The position of the alliance is that first we want to have that relief we believe that tax relief as it relates to property should be tilted toward business since we’ve had the disadvantage since the inception of this system three decades ago,” Stineman said.

Secondly, he says they want to make sure that the classes are moved toward a more equitable treatment and says the specifics on how to do that are still up for discussion. Stineman says tax relief can’t wait if the state is going to improve its economy. “We don’t believe that the burden should be on business for times be good in order for us to get that tax relief, we need the tax relief now so that we can help the times to be good,” according to Stineman.

He says they also want to be sure the tax proposals are sustainable in the long-term so they don’t have to address the issue again in a few years. Repairing the state’s transportation infrastructure is another priority, and the group supports an increase in the gas tax. Stineman says their support goes beyond simply raising more money.

Stineman says there is both a need for more resources and also a serious need to look at the allocation of the road funds. He says as they look to the future of the tax discussion, it should not be separated from the issue of distributing the funds.

Stineman believes the legislature can address these issues this session after the marathon session they had last year. Stineman says they are “optimistic.” He says while they were frustrated by the lack of tax reform last year, he says there was “significant headway” made in economic development.

Stineman says all the right people are talking about the issues now, and they just have to make sure “at the end of the day they can reach an agreement.” The I.C.A. released its priorities in a news conference at the state capitol.

You can see the Iowa Chamber Alliance’s complete legislative agenda