Legislators made great strides in the areas of property tax, education reform and healthcare during the 2013 session. Lawmakers kicked off the 2014 Legislative session Monday, Jan. 20 and it is important to look forward. We must continue to build upon those successes.
We must pay attention to the issues impacting Iowans and continue to act responsibly with legislation to strengthen our economy, foster job creation and provide Iowans a world-class education. It is important to explore income tax reform, which benefits Iowans by keeping more money in their pockets. Crafting sensible tax policy also makes Iowa more appealing for businesses looking to expand or relocate in our state.
We at the Legislature must maintain fiscally responsible budgeting practices. We need to protect commitments made to Iowans pertaining to education and property tax reform in the coming years without encumbering Iowans by raising taxes.
As the ranking member of the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, I applaud Gov. Terry Branstad’s initiatives to create new opportunities for veterans. It is important to stand by our veterans who sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
The governor’s Home Base Iowa Act has a component I believe is long overdue — exempting military pensions from state income tax. As an elected official who believes the legislature should explore all aspects of income tax reform, this is a welcome start. Passing this initiative also moves our state in the right direction when it comes to competing with neighboring states such as Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The Home Base Iowa Act also includes key measures I support such as directing Iowa’s occupational boards to adopt rules assigning credit for military training and experience in the licensing process, and calling upon the State Board of Education - to follow the Regents universities lead — to grant in-state tuition to veterans, their spouses and dependents at Iowa’s community colleges.
Two common themes heard throughout the first week of the 2014 Legislative session were job creation and strengthening Iowa’s economy. As your voice in the Iowa Legislature, I take my role very seriously in passing responsible legislation that helps job creators expand and grow their workforces and businesses.
Last year, I supported legislation — House File 634 — addressing business growth and job creation. The proposed bill clarified the definition of replacement parts, including supplies consumed during the manufacturing process as exempt from sales and use tax.
Senate Republicans, much like a unanimous House, believed this was good tax policy because it placed the tax on the final product and not the inputs.
Consumable supplies are inputs into the manufacturing process and the output is taxed. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats amended House File 634 to remove this clarifying language and double-tax products manufactured in Iowa. Senate Republicans stand firm; Iowa’s manufactured products should not be double-taxed.
Making that fix in the consumables tax language would allow manufacturers to invest in new equipment. More importantly, eliminating the “double tax” creates an environment in which companies can continue to pay good wages and employ more skilled workers.
Senate Republicans will continue to pursue this significant piece of legislation because it is vital to growing our economy and creating a legacy of opportunity for Iowa’s future.
This week Tuesday I had the pleasure of hosting Jackie Reif, a 10th grader from Oskaloosa Senior High. As part of an English assignment requiring students to “job shadow,” Jackie contacted me and asked if she could follow me around the Capitol. It was a fun day for me, and I think Jackie enjoyed her day in the Iowa Senate.
As always, please contact me if you have questions or concerns that I can help with. Remember to join us at Smokey Row in Oskaloosa at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25.
Sen. Ken Rozenboom