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Local Property Taxes | Iowa Republican Governor Debate (May 20, 2010)

posted on May 20, 2010

Henderson: Gentlemen, you have all made property tax reform proposals that will not make much of a dent in residential property taxes. Do you intend to offer broader property tax cut proposals that would impact residential property taxes? This answer from you, Mr. Branstad, first.

Branstad: Well, the best thing we can do is go back and restore fiscal responsibility and for the state to make good on its commitments. What Culver did last year is inexcusable, ten percent across-the-board cut, it's going to lead to huge property tax increases, not only for residential property but all the way across for property taxpayers. That's wrong. So, we need to restore fiscal responsibility, which I'm going to do by putting together a five year budget plan, insist on a bi-annual budget and veto anything that violates the 99% spending limitations. I also think we need to put reasonable controls on property taxes as I did before to say that property taxes should not go up more than the rate of inflation.

Branstad: I think that we need to do that -- property taxes are the most unpopular and unfair tax we have in Iowa. We do have a rollback on residential. We do tax farmland based on productivity. But we need to look at additional things we can do to control property taxes, to help Iowa taxpayers at this critical time in our history.

Henderson: Mr. Roberts.

Roberts: One of the first things we need to do is simply slow down the rate of growth in real estate property taxes here in Iowa across all four categories, residential, agriculture but especially commercial and industrial and we can do that. I think we have required property taxpayers to assume more and more of the responsibility of providing for key services like local K-12 education, mental health services. I think the state ought to look at are there particular areas where we might assume some of that responsibility and lighten the load for property taxpayers. But long-term I think we need to devote time and energy to having a conversation across the state of Iowa taking in ideas and suggestions, best practice ideas from citizens across the state on how we might look at the structure of local government, the best way to provide services at the local government area and eventually streamline the services that are provided so that we can reduce our dependency upon local property taxes to pay for so much of our local government services.

Henderson: Mr. Vander Plaats.

Vander Plaats: The answer to your question is yes. But the first thing you need to do, this is from an entrepreneur and a business leader, is you need to free up business and industry. That is why I said we're going to take the mental health and developmental disability funding off the back of property taxes. That will save about $144 million, target it to business and industry. When you target to business and industry property tax relief, businesses expand, they develop, they hire new employees and they also buy homes or build homes which expands your residential base.

Vander Plaats: But you're right, we need to get the state government's house in order. I believe you need a CEO from the private sector, not from the public sector where we produce more but with less, where we really do live within the means versus just passing the buck onto somebody else. For example, I believe when we eliminated the M&E, the machinery and equipment tax, I think it was a good move but we didn't backfill it with anything, the state just put it back onto property taxes which raised commercial, business and industry, residential and aid property taxes.

Tags: Bob Vander Plaats campaign 2010 debates elections gubernatorial candidates Iowa politics primaries Republicans Rod Roberts taxes Terry Branstad