Gov. Terry Branstad knows that reducing the state's commercial property tax rate won't be easy. If it were, it would have happened six years ago when the Legislature started looking in earnest at making a change.
Bringing down the rate that businesses say is a crippling disadvantage will have to be a gradual move. The governor's plan calls for doing it in eight years; a House committee version of the bill would stretch it to 14. The elongated timeline is an effort to appease cities concerned about their revenue streams and the impact on residential property taxpayers.
Branstad's plan would give money back to cities to offset the change, gradually weaning them off the state help. Municipal officials have their doubts.
Scrutiny and spirited debate could make this a solid and workable piece of legislation.
Unless it never gets to that point.
Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg, said he would block the Senate from even debating the governor's plan, and he dismissed a separate property tax cut proposal approved in the GOP-controlled House.
We expect more than that from our legislative leaders. Commercial property taxes has been an area of concern raised by voters and businesses for years. Now, the governor has a proposal for a long-term fix, and our Senate leader refuses to even have the conversation? This is exactly the kind of political divisiveness citizens want stopped.
Just because someone from the other party proposes it doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Iowa voters will be much happier if lawmakers dig into this plan and weigh its value rather than dismiss it without consideration. One thing voters dislike as much as high commercial taxes is gridlock in government.
- Telegraph Herald (Dubuque), Jan. 30