Kelly Halsted of Fort Dodge speaks at Iowa Chamber Alliance news conference.

Kelly Halsted of Fort Dodge speaks at Iowa Chamber Alliance news conference.

The state’s 16 largest chambers of commerce are calling on lawmakers to simplify Iowa’s income taxes for businesses and individuals. The Iowa Chamber Alliance is also renewing its push to raise the state gas tax.

“Iowa’s road system requires immediate attention,” says Kelly Halstead, economic development director for the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Iowa Chamber Alliance members say Iowa businesses have to deal with extra vehicle maintenance costs because Iowa’s roads and bridges are in poor shape. The group also argues Iowa’s complicated income tax system is hard to explain to businesses considering Iowa for expansion.

“In economic development, if you’re explaining, you’re losing,” says Steve Firman, director of government relations for the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber.

The Chamber Alliance supports a “two-lane” approach to tax reform that would allow businesses and individuals to choose to file under the current system or a new one that would be simpler, with lower rates and fewer deductions. Iowa Chamber Alliance executive director John Stineman says there’s a way to accomplish these goals, even with a politically divided Iowa legislature where Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House.

“Certainly there are a lot of signals being sent that it may be a shorter or less ambitious session, but that doesn’t mean that the issues that need to be addressed won’t be addressed,” Stineman ays. “If there can be a solution — a bipartisan solution — I think that they’ll take that opportunity. I’ve never seen a legislator, I never seen a politician that would turn down an opportunity to have another thing to take credit for.”

The Iowa Chamber Alliance held a news conference late this morning in Des Moines to release its wish list for legislative action in 2014.

AUDIO of news conference

The legislature’s top leaders will speak to the group early this afternoon.