Candidates in a suburban Linn County Iowa Senate district don’t care whether Cedar Rapids gets a gaming license, and declined to take a position on a proposed downtown casino.
“I don’t care one way or another,” Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Cedar Rapids, said at a League of Women Voters forum in Marion Thursday. The decision to grant a gaming license should be left to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, she said.
“I don’t care,” added her Republican challenger, Ryan Flood of Cedar Rapids.
The Senate 34 candidates also agreed it’s the wrong time to raise the state gas tax and the right time to cut property taxes.
Raising the gas tax is a “terrible idea,” Flood told about 40 people who attended the Senate 34 forum.
“The government should be working to make gas more affordable,” he said.
Although she agreed, Mathis said the Legislature can’t ignore the state crumbling roads and bridges.
“How do we repair these roads and bridges?” she said. “We have to do something.”
Mathis, who was elected a year ago in a special election, and Flood are running in a newly created legislative district that includes Marion, Hiawatha, Robin, Bertram and Ely and Linn County east of Cedar Rapids. The district leans slightly Republican. Voter registration data shows registrations favors the GOP 32 percent to 30 percent, but 38 percent are “no party” voters.
Flood’s tax philosophy went beyond proposals to raise the gas tax. Taxes contribute to Iowa having one of the worst climates for business, he said.
“We’re not being competitive,” he said. “Any time we can cut taxes, I’m going to fight to do so.”
Mathis wouldn’t go that far, but said property taxes could be cut “as low as 40 percent.”
If property taxes are cut, the state may have to look at spending cuts to offset the revenue loss that would hit local governments hardest.
Flood suggested looking first at redundancies in government, such as state department each having its own informational technology staffs.
Mathis, 54, was a KCRG-TV9 anchor for nine years after working 16 years as a reporter and anchor at KWWL. More recently, she was chief information officer for Four Oaks.
She and her husband, Mark, live near Robins and have two children. She grew up on an Iowa farm and is a University of Iowa graduate.
Flood has been director of operations for libertarian-leaning Liberty for All in Texas since leaving the Ron Paul presidential campaign this spring. The Linn-Mar and University of Iowa graduate also worked in financial services.