Iowa House working on budget phase

The Iowa House is in a numbers crunching phase, churning out budget items with six weeks left in the current legislative session.

Two local House members, Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, and Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, were in attendance during a legislative forum organized by the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Friday at the Fisher Community Center.

Fisher said it is “so far, so good” on the budget as the House is trying to get spending in line with 99 percent of the ongoing revenue.

“We’re still on the budget target so that’s looking good,” Fisher said.

Fisher said they shouldn’t look at spending beyond their means because that’s what led the state into financial trouble when Chet Culver was governor.

On the topic of commercial property tax reform, Smith said there is still some divide between the Senate and House plans.

“Hopefully, it will come down to something in the end,” Smith said.

Fisher said he is in favor of commercial property tax cuts across the board and not just for small businesses to help attract a wide range of companies to the state. He said this lack of business growth has led to 40 percent of graduates from the state’s regents universities leaving the state.

“We’ve got to do something different to keep people here,” Fisher said.

Paul Gregoire, of Emerson Process Management, said commercial property tax reform didn’t come to fruition last year and stressed compromise among both parties to get it done this session.

“This has got to be changed and it’s got to be changed significantly,” Gregoire said.

One of the hot topics in the state is the amount of incentives given to land a fertilizer plant in Lee County. Smith said incentives do have value and the state shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bath water” to try and attract future economic development.

“A good number of companies have used incentives and have brought jobs to our communities,” Smith said.