The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber has reviewed the outcomes of the 2012 session of the Iowa General Assembly. Unfortunately, on the three items that were at the top of the Alliance and Chamber’s “to do list” for the session, one saw no resolution, one was significantly less than desired, and one required a great deal of defense to protect what we already had.
No action: equity for commercial and industrial property taxpayers. After an entire session when the leadership in each chamber and the Governor said this item was their top priority and after hundreds of hours of meetings and negotiations, the Governor and House Republicans were unable to reach a compromise with the Senate Democrats that would result in an important change inIowa law.
Less than desired: economic development incentives. Last year, the Legislature changed the Iowa Department of Economic Development to the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. This year, the Governor had originally asked for $25 million to go to the Authority so it could continue to work on the Governors goal of creating 200,000 jobs new jobs inIowa. The House Republican leadership initially responded by saying that $0 would be allocated to this purpose, but the final negotiations between the chambers resulted in a bill that sets the level of incentives available at $15 million.
Defense: tax increment financing or TIF. Set off by having one community lure a business away from an adjoining community, Legislators decided that it was time to restructure the law regulating the creation and use of TIF’s. Tax increment financing is the only economic development tool available to local governments and the initial bills aimed at changing the TIF law would in fact have gutted it, making it of little use in the future. Again, hours and hours of negotiations were held and even though the Alliance & Chamber’s view was no change would have been the best change, some fairly minor changes in the areas of transparency and reporting were adopted, as were anti-piracy provisions to address the initial problem Legislators were trying to get at when they started tinkering with TIF.
The Alliance & Chamber await the Governor’s actions on these and other items of interest. We will produce an update once the Governor has completed his work in signing or vetoing the bills sent to him by the Legislature.