Republicans in the Iowa House have passed a bill that aims to reduce commercial property taxes in Iowa by 40 percent over the next eight years. The proposal also seeks to limit increases in property taxes on homes and farmland.
Representative Peter Cownie, a Republican from West Des Moines, says Iowa has some of the highest property tax rates in the country.
“If we do nothing, property taxes will continue to go up on Iowans,” Cownie says.
Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says everyone agrees there’s a problem.
“I think everyone wants to fix it,” Mascher says. “…But in order to do that, it’s going to take a compromise.”
Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, suggested Democrats have been unwilling to compromise.
“We believe that we have tried to find some common ground between the House and the Senate,” Sands says. “And they seem to be stuck on their plan from day one last year.”
Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, suggests the GOP plan will lead to reduced city tax collections and to cuts in city services.
“If when you call the police station they say, ‘Well, we’ll be there in about an hour. Try and hold on,’ nobody’s winning here,” Wessel-Kroeschell says.
Representative Nate Willems, a Democrat from Lisbon, suggests the Republicans’ proposal is “extreme” rather than a step toward common ground with Democrats.
“We are 13 months into this debate and have made almost no progress,” Willems said.
Representative Erik Helland, a Republican from Grimes, is unapologetic.
“If standing up for the Iowa taxpayer makes me a right-winger…then I am proud to be a tea-partier,” Helland says.
The bill passed on a 58 to 39, party-line vote.
The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate last Friday made a counter-offer, suggesting $250 million of property tax relief might be middle ground rather than the GOP plan which cuts commercial property taxes by more than $600 million over the next eight years. Earlier today the Iowa Senate passed a different tax cut, one aimed at lower income working Iowans.