Gov. Terry Branstad lauded his new plan for permanent property tax relief Wednesday night during a town hall meeting.
Before a small group of roughly 45 people at Legends American Grill, 2902 S. Center St., the governor spoke on why he thought his plan was superior to the Democratic Senate plan to reduce property taxes over the next eight years.
"Everyone knows property taxes are generally too high," Branstad said. "Our plan offers permanent relief."
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Gov. Terry Branstad talks about his proposal plan for permanent property tax relief at Legends American Grill Wednesday night. The governor’s plan would save tax payers $1.2 billion over eight years.
Under the governor's plan, Iowa taxpayers would save $1.2 billion over that period, as well treating commercial and residential property as well as new and existing taxes the same, he said.
Many businesses face exorbitant property taxes, he said. That needs to stop.
Although the governor's plan does not make Iowa immune to property tax increases, it does attempt to limit the degree to which they increase.
"I think we have the pathway to get significant permanent property tax relief this year," he said.
The governor said he is willing to work with the Democratic Senate to reach a compromise. He said if it will support this initiative he will support an increase for the earned income tax credit, even though he previously vetoed such an increase.
Branstad said his plan would match local governments dollar for dollar, and would ensure tax credits will come through by utilizing a five-year budget plan that earmarks that money. Each year, that plan would be re-evaluated for the subsequent five years.
"We are going to see that local governments are protected," he said. "There will be no loss to local governments."
During the open forum portion of the town hall meeting, several employees and others lobbying on behalf of the employees of the Iowa Veterans Home inquired when that facility would return state benefits to several groups of contracted employees.
The governor said that a return to such a policy simply isn't fiscally prudent, and if anything, he believes all state employees, which includes him, should pay at least 20 percent of their medical insurance.
"We got to do what's fair and right," he said.
Attorney and former state senator Larry McKibben, who introduced the governor, said the meeting went well, and that he felt Branstad contrasted his plan with the Senate's well.
The Senate's plan, he said, doesn't provide fair property tax relief for all Iowans. Branstad's does.
"I think the governor made a great case for permanent property tax reform," McKibben said. "I think they got it."