The top Democrat in the Iowa legislature says he’s “trying to show a willingness to negotiate” on a property tax reduction package. This morning, during taping of an Iowa Public Television program, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal made an offer to Republicans.
“We’ve got a $200 million plan on the table,” Gronstal said. “We can probably make that a $250 million dollar plan.”
Democrats, though, have proposed a direct commercial property tax credit to small businesses based in Iowa, while Republicans favor a 40 percent reduction in property taxes on all commercial property, regardless of the size of the enterprise.
“I want to focus on where we agree,”Gronstal said. “We both think, to the tune of hundreds of millions, we can make a difference in commercial property taxes in this state.”
Gronstal is suggesting Republicans settle for a $250 million cut this year, and try again next year to expand it.
“Often around here the best approach is to take one step,” Gronstal said. “One step usually leads to a second step and a third step, so let’s take a step this year on the pieces we agree on.”
Republican Governor Terry Branstad has proposed a $560 million reduction in commercial property taxes over the next eight years and Republicans intend to vote next week on a plan of similar size. Republicans propose setting aside 240-million dollars in state taxes as payments to cities and counties to make up for some of the commercial property tax money they’d lose. Gronstal suggests both parties “have to give up something” to find common ground on this issue.
Gronstal made his comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program which airs tonight on Iowa Public Television. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, the top-ranking Republican in the legislature, issued a statement in response to Gronstal’s statements.
“I look forward to seeing the details of their compromise plan,” Paulsen said. “The proposal that House Republicans and the governor have agreed on provides property tax relief for all Iowans, including homeowners.”
(This story was updated at 12:22 p.m. with additional information.)