Gov. Terry Branstad pushed his $400 million property tax reform plan during his Monday news conference, where he was joined by a handful of the 26 local officials who have signed on as supporters.
The governor and key leaders in the Legislature have said property tax reform is one of the highest priorities of the current session, but they haven’t agreed on how to get there.
The biggest differences are between the governor’s proposal and the one being pushed by Senate Democrats.
Under the governor’s plan, tax rates are rolled back for all commercial and industrial properties by 20 percent and growth in taxable land value is slowed to no more than 2 percent annually. Branstad’s bill also provides “backfill” for local governments that would lose revenue under the plan.
Senate Democrats favor a property tax credit program that allows all businesses to be taxed at a lower rate on the first $324,000 of their assessed property value. It also sets up a business property tax relief fund that would be used to provide tax credits for businesses.
Cedar County supervisor Jeff Kaufmann, who retired from the Iowa House last year, was among the group of local officials who stood with Branstad at the news conference.
“At the grassroots level, this bill matters,” Kaufmann said of the governor’s proposal. “We can have the property tax relief that my Main Street businesses need … and at the same time, we can protect the revenues that are coming in to our local governments.”
Kaufmann added the tax credit proposed in the Senate plan “does not provide the consistency and predictability that (businesses) need.”
Branstad indicated that he was open to further negotiations with Senate Democrats on property tax reform.
“We had discussions last year on things that might be able to be worked out, and we’re always willing to look,” he said. “We just want to make sure that it’s permanent property tax relief so we can ensure taxpayers it’s not going to be taken away next year and doesn’t require some trigger.”
Gov. Terry Branstad listed 26 local elected officials who support his property tax plan. They range from city council members and mayors to county sheriffs and supervisors: