Governor Terry Branstad says he thinks the details are nearly hammered out on a plan to reduce both income and commercial property taxes in Iowa.
“Property tax is the biggest and most significant part of it, but there are priorities for both the House Republicans and Senate Democrats as well as the property tax that we’ve been working on for a long time,” Branstad told reporters late this afternoon.
Branstad, a Republican, made commercial property tax relief a cornerstone of his 2010 campaign. The governor and legislators of both parties have been wrangling over the proper way to accomplish that goal for the past two and a half years.
“People never quit this time,” Branstad says. “They stayed with it and, I mean, I think it takes patience and tenacity to get significant things accomplished.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal is not ready to declare the deal done. He won’t he discuss the details, either, but his public statements suggest there’s progress.
“Closer than last week,” Gronstal told reporters this morning.
In addition to a reduction in commercial property tax rates, legislators have been considering a new, two percent limit on future property tax increases for homes and farmland. Under current law the increase can be four percent. House Republicans have been pressing for a new income tax credit that would return part of a state budget surplus to taxpayers. Senate Democrats have been pressing for an increase in an income tax credit that helps low-income Iowans.
Last year’s tax-cutting discussions included the idea of reclassifying apartments as residential rather than commercial property, providing a 50 percent reduction in assessments.