After three years of discussions, Republican Governor Terry Branstad and Democrats in the legislature are far from a deal on property tax reform. Branstad unveiled a website today to try to pressure legislators to pass new limits on residential property taxes and taxes on farmland — in addition to cutting commercial property taxes.
“The legislature is sometimes slow to act, but now’s the time,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference.
Branstad said the new state tax credit Democrats propose for commercial property taxpayers “does nothing” for homeowners. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal accused Branstad of giving legislators conflicting messages.
“For going on three years now the governor has said the presenting problem is commercial property taxes. I understand today he shifted gears and said the problem is residential,” Gronstal told Radio Iowa. “…I’m not sure which one he thinks is more important now.”
Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said he’s “happy” to discuss other tax cutting ideas, including an income tax break he supports that’s geared to low-income Iowans.
“We have a lot of work to do here in the coming weeks here to try and get to a compromise,” Bolkcom said during an interview.
Branstad has twice vetoed an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.
“I’m willing to consider other things as well,” Branstad said, “but I think it’s critically important to focus on permanently reducing property taxes for not just commercial and industrial, but for homeowners and farmers as well.”
A “calculator” on Branstad’s state government website can be used to find out the average savings a home owner could get from the governor’s property tax proposal. However, each county, school district and city has different tax rates, so it cannot calculate the actual savings an individual home owner would receive.