Taxing, spending agreements elusive at statehouse


February 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Fundamental disagreements over taxing and spending policies continue to divide the two political parties in the Iowa legislature — and the disputes threat to derail key initiatives. Iowa’s Republican governor is even at odds with his fellow Republicans on some key spending priorities, like a 25-million dollar state grant program for businesses that promise to expand in Iowa. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, the top Republican in the Iowa House, says that money is not included in the House G-O-P’s budget plan. “It’s not a hard no,” Paulsen says. “But we’re going to have to get some more detail on it.” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal suggests it’s not a new concept to set aside state tax money for direct grants to businesses.

“If you look at our state, over the last 30 years we have provided somewhere between $15 and $50 million every year for job creation,” Gronstal says, “though Democratic administrations, through Republican administration.” Gronstal says it would be a “disaster” to discontinue that program as House Republicans suggest. “While some might say we shouldn’t be engaged in that game, I think to unilaterally disarm…when 49 other states have those kind of programs, I think that is foolhardy,” Gronstal says. The top Republican in the House, meanwhile, is critical of Gronstal and his fellow Democrats for not considering the property tax reform plan House Republicans have crafted.

“Unquestionably there is tax relief in that bill for every single taxpayer in the state of Iowa,” Paulsen says. “Over $400 million for homeowners and you can try to slice it up any way you want, but at the end of the day, that’s just simple facts.” The Democratic leader in the Senate disputes those numbers and Paulsen says voters in November may have to decide which party has the right answer, as legislators may not be able to come to an agreement on property tax reform.

(by O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)