Week two is now behind us, and the Legislature is settling into the hard work of the session. Budget work has begun in earnest and major policy proposals, like the Governor’s education reform package, have begun to be deliberated in committee.
New legislators are beginning to find their routines and the Capitol is abuzz morning, noon and afternoon with the many groups and associations coming to Des Moines to educate policymakers on their issues and jockey for support.
Yes, it is late January in Des Moines.
So far the 85th Iowa General Assembly has been relatively smooth. But now they are starting to dig into the big issues and the new Assembly will be tested quickly on whether or not it will be different than the past two years where bipartisan agreement was hard to come by. Only time will tell.
There are, of course, a lot of issues for legislators to come together and support.
Education reform is at the top of the Governor’s list and has the attention of legislators from both chambers and both parties. Iowa’s schools have not kept up with the rest of the country. Our time on top has passed, and now we dwell in the middle of the pack. Real reform is critical, and the proposals coming out of the reform task force are a very positive step forward to help our children be prepared for the future and to help ensure Iowa’s workforce is strong and relevant.
Property taxes are again a major topic – as they should be with the past two sessions seeing much discussion, but no agreement on reforming Iowa’s uncompetitive commercial/industrial property tax system. The Governor has a new proposal on the table that will guarantee local governments will not lose revenue as a result of rolling back business property taxes. 2013 may well be the year to address this important issue that has been a hindrance to Iowa businesses and economic growth for decades.
Economic development issues are always lively under the Rotunda. Last year there was a fight over tax increment financing (TIF). This year, tax credits are under scrutiny as a response to some of the larger tax credits awards in Iowa history being involved in securing two of the biggest capital investments in Iowa history. Iowa’s economic development activity is on a major upswing, creating thousands of jobs. The Legislature needs to restore tax credits to their previous level of $185 million, rather than being critical of them. Direct incentives warrant proper funding as well.
There are several opportunities for the Legislature and the Governor to come together to help advance Iowa’s economy. The Iowa Chamber Alliance will be in the mix, advocating for economic growth and sound public policy. Check www.iowachamberalliance.com for updates.
For questions, please contact Iowa Chamber Alliance Executive Director, John Stineman, at firstname.lastname@example.org