Branstad calls for commercial property tax cut, education reform - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Branstad calls for commercial property tax cut, education reform

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -

With a sense of deja vu, Governor Terry Branstad outlined his priorities during his annual "condition of the state" speech. The two "big ticket" items are reforms to education and property taxes, just like last year.

Branstad boasted "great progress" in the last year, specifically a balanced budget. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "It is a shining example of the good work we have done  together."

But, Branstad said there's still work to do. Namely in the state's on-going efforts to reduce  property taxes. Last year, lawmakers couldn't pass a 40% cut to commercial property taxes. This  time, the governor is tackling every class of property tax. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "My plan permanently reduces commercial and industrial property  tax values by 20% over a four year period and provides direct funding for local governments to replace 100% of the property tax revenue." Sen. Bill Anderson, (R) Sioux City says, "I think it's a big piece of the puzzle as far as the economic growth the governor wants." And, a big step to compete with neighboring states with lower tax rates.

The plan also changes the  school finance formula so that "allowable growth will be replaced 100% by state aid." Sen. Rick Bertrand, (R) Sioux City says, "It's direct, dollar-for-dollar tax relief and I think the state's in a position to buy down that formula."

It's a plan worth $400-million, but may be priceless to property-poor school districts, like Sioux City. Rep. Chris Hall, (D) Sioux City says, "The communities that are currently viewed as property-poor,  no longer are."

Branstad said there's also work to do to help Iowa's students, who he says have fallen to the  "middle of the pack", nationwide. But, Branstad says teachers aren't to blame. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "Unfortunately, our teachers are stuck in a system designed for the 20th century. We must work together to transform Iowa's schools for the 21st century."

Branstad plans to spend $187-million over five-years to raise starting teacher pay by $7,000 a  year, and offer incentives for Iowa students to stay, and teach, in Iowa. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "This kind of reform does come with significant cost, but it is  a cost I believe to be a true investment in educational excellence."

Representative Ron Jorgensen heads the House education committee, and it'll be his job to move Branstad's plan through. Rep. Ron Jorgensen, (R) Sioux City says, "I'm optimistic. My goal is to get a significant reform package passed by the Iowa House, and work with the Senate. And, get one signed into law."

Governor Branstad will criss-cross the state over the next few weeks to try and sell his plans to the people of Iowa. He'll start in Sioux City on Thursday.

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