The two candidates for governor continued their back and forth over tax breaks today. Republican Governor Terry Branstad was asked about the criticism of the state’s tax deal with a fertilizer company by Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.
Branstad says Hatch, a state senator and real estate developer, is being critical of the deal while at the same time refusing to release his income tax information. “I think Iowans have a right to know that information, and I think it’s interesting that with only investing 12-hundred dollars he has made seven million,” Branstad says. “And that while he rails against tax credits that have created jobs in southeast Iowa, he has made millions in tax credits.”
Branstad says he has released 24 years of his own tax returns, while Hatch’s campaign released one year and had promised to release four more. “But then when Senator Hatch found out about it he said ‘No’ and he refuses to this day. I think Iowans deserve to know how much money that he made and how much taxes he paid and the kind of tax credits he was able to get,” Branstad says.
Branstad says Hatch and his fellow Democrats in the Senate have wrongly attacked his economic development director Debbie Durham over the deal. “So Jack Hatch thinks he is a better professional developer than Debbie Durham and that he is better the count officials in Lee County,” Branstad days. “I submit that Debbie Durham — who has a tremendous track record of being a tremendous economic developer in Sioux City and now for the state of Iowa – has helped grow the economy, reduced the unemployment rate in the state by about 30-percent, brought all kinds of good jobs to all parts of the state, knows a lot more about this than Jack Hatch. “This has broad-based bipartisan support in southeast Iowa. Maybe Democrats in the Senate don’t think it is important, but the people who live there and the farmers of Iowa think this is, and it’s making a difference. It makes more sense to have nitrogen fertilizer produced in Iowa than overseas,” Branstad says.
Hatch held a meeting with reporters shortly after Branstad’s weekly news conference. Hatch says Branstad and the Republican Governors Association have been trying to make a political issue out of his business practices.
But Hatch says a review by the Des Moines Register shows he has done everything right when it comes to getting tax credits while working the Iowa Senate. “And they are then just trying to intentionally to provide a false and misleading profile of me to that is contrary to what we all believe is required or should be tolerated in a Democratic election,” Hatch says.
Hatch says it has been a precedent to release just one year of tax returns once you announce you are running for governor. He was asked why he is against releasing more tax returns. “Well I think you’ve seen what happens with full disclosure of my business and they still are going to be attacking, making false statements,” Hatch says. “Why would I want to give them more? That’s just going to give them another wave of attacks that are false and misleading and incomplete. And that’s why we are not going to do it.”
Hatch says releasing his tax returns won’t stop the Republican attacks on his use of tax credits. “Why give a robber a combination to another safe and you really think he’s not going to take any money?,” Hatch asks. Hatch also addressed the governor’s claim that Hatch and fellow Democrats are against the economic development brought to southeast Iowa with the new fertilizer plant. “The issue with Orascom has never been about whether we should have a fertilizer plant. It was always about the negotiated agreement that governor Branstad and his team put together. And that has always been the issue,” Hatch says. “And I think they went way over the top and gave them an unbelievable deal and really gave them too much.”
Hatch says he is a better negotiator than the governor’s economic development director and would not have given Orascom such a good deal to build the fertilizer plant. The two will get to talk more about the issue at their next debate which is scheduled for Burlington on September 15th. Governor Branstad says he specifically chose the southeast Iowa location for the debate because of the discussion over the deal for the fertilizer plant in the area.