Iowa lawmakers will return next week

DES MOINES – Iowa legislators left for the weekend without taking up a compromise tax bill that would cut commercial property taxes.

The state House and Senate adjourned Friday afternoon, with plans to return early next week.

Some Senate Democrats have expressed concerns about the overall tax package. The tentative agreement, revealed Thursday, would gradually reduce taxable assessments of commercial properties by 10 percent and provide property tax credits geared for smaller businesses. It also will offer small income tax credits to taxpayers and increase the state earned income tax credit for low-income workers.

Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, said some of his colleagues wanted to take the weekend to review the bill and how it would impact local communities.

“This is a half of a loaf,” said McCoy, a supporter of the bill who served on the committee that worked on the plan. “This 10 percent across the board was not the preferred way of the caucus to do the property tax plan and so it’s a hard pill to swallow.”

McCoy said he was confident a majority of Senate Democrats would vote for the plan, which he said was negotiated by House and Senate leaders with the governor’s office.

Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, said he expected to return to vote on the bill next week and quickly conclude the rest of the session.

“I think we’ve had a great week. It would appear we’re not going to get quite as far as we would have hoped,” Paulsen said. “We’ll continue to work on the outstanding two, three pieces that are out there and be back next week and hopefully wrap it up quickly.”

Supporters of the property tax proposal say it will make the state more attractive to business. But advocates for local governments have raised concerns about the plan, which is expected to reduce local tax revenues.

“It’s going to impact cities’ abilities to provide services,” said Alan Kemp, the executive director of the Iowa League of Cities.

Lawmakers reported for duty Friday, a day they usually take off.

Legislators in both chambers passed a budget bill Friday for infrastructure and technology spending. The House and Senate approved $77 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1 – most of it from a fund that uses state gambling revenues – to maintain state buildings and public lands. That bill next moves to the governor.