Greenfield Republican Representative Clel Baudler sat in on a House Ways and Means subcommittee meeting this past week, during which a report was given on commercial, residential and agricultural property taxes. The House panel Thursday approved a tax cut plan that its sponsor, Ways and Mean Committee Chairman, Republican Tom Sands, says is a compromise between Governor Terry Branstad and Senate Democrats. The bill would cut commercial property taxes by 40-percent, and take place over the course of 14-years, instead of the 8-years proposed by Governor Branstad. Baudler told KJAN News it’s imperative action be taken soon to reduce the tax rate.
He says if something isn’t done this year, “Residential property tax could follow Ag-land up unbelievably high.” He says the tax on 50% of property valuation on residential properties could go up to 62% very quickly, and 75% over the next few years. He says the public needs to be engaged in the process, and watching it “very close.” Sands’ plan would provide greater relief to small businesses, as called for in a plan proposed by Democrats. It would also provide relief for all property taxpayers by offering more state education aid and tying residential property tax increases to the rate of inflation.
Baulder says the effort is designed to make Iowa a State which is more “Industry friendly and Job friendly.” He says he thinks this legislative session will be consumed by property tax reform, education reform, and mental health funding and reform. Baudler says he’s not on the committees handling the education issue, but his concern is that about every two-years, something has been done in the legislature to increase funding for education, but we’re “Not getting the bang for the buck.” He says Governor Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have not mentioned how the nearly $25-million in increases would be paid for. Baudler says the legislature made progress on turning the State’s spending problem around last year, and they have to be careful where they come up with the money, so it doesn’t affect businesses on “Main Street.”
Baudler says there’s something new this year: The public can watch House proceedings on the web, when the legislature is in session, so you can follow the progress on bills and other action being taken or discussed. To view the proceedings, log in to https://www.legis.iowa.gov/index.aspx and click on the link to “New – Live House video.” He says there are six-cameras in the house, which will focus on whichever microphone is on, and the speaker. There is a link also to focus on the amendments and a bill at the same time. If two people are speaking during a question and answer-type event, they will appear on a split-screen. Baulder says it’s an effort to grant transparency to what the House is doing. The Senate he adds, has not agreed to similar measures. He says the cameras are an interesting concept which cost the State about $30,000, with the remaining cost picked up by a $100,000 grant.