Few "landmark" issues for Iowa lawmakers to tackle in 2014 - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Few "landmark" issues for Iowa lawmakers to tackle in 2014

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) - DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV)- Last year saw Iowa lawmakers pass landmark reforms to education, low-income health care, and property taxes. Taxes will once again be the talk in Des Moines, this year. Called

one of the country's most complex, Iowa's income tax system is the focus for several Siouxland lawmakers. Sen. Randy Feenstra, (R) Hull says, "I think it's extremely important." That's why Feenstra introduced a bill, last session, to overhaul and simplify Iowa's income tax system. He's even suggested phasing it out, altogether. Sen. Randy Feenstra, (R) Hull says, "That would put us on the same footing as South Dakota."

Some Senate Republicans support a flat tax that passed the House last year. Rep. Chuck Soderberg, (R) Le Mars says, "You'd calculate your tax through deductions, or a flat 4.5% tax."

But, for Soderberg, it's important to look back before looking ahead. Rep. Chuck Soderberg, (R) Le Mars says, "The biggest challenge this year is to fully-fund bills passed last year." That includes property tax reform by making sure there's equity between property-poor districts, like Sioux City, and property-rich districts. Rep. Ron Jorgensen, (R) Sioux City says, "Reform didn't end last year." Jorgensen says the Property Tax Equity Relief Fund can level the playing field if it's fully-funded.

It'll cost a pretty penny. Rep. Chris Hall, (D) Sioux City says, "If we were to close the gap, it would cost an additional $20-$25 million. There's a projected surplus of $928 million. But, Hall knows that's not a blank check. Rep. Chris Hall, (D) Sioux City says, "It's not in any party's interest to spend down all of our surplus dollars."

Partisanship may dictate progress in Des Moines. It's an election year. Plus, the Senate is still controlled by Democrats, and Republicans have the majority in the House.

Lawmakers are eager to hear Governor Terry Branstad "condition of the state" speech, Tuesday morning. Branstad is expected to detail his budget plan.

He'll also offer specifics about three other priorities. "Connect Iowa" will focus on making broadband internet service available, statewide. "Home Base Iowa" is an initiative to designate Iowa companies, and communities, as centers for job opportunities for veterans. And, as a follow-up to last year's anti-bullying summit, the governor will propose ways to address cyber-bullying that involves both parents, and schools.

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