Legislators debate tax credits
The topic of tax credits was a source of debate at Saturday’s Legislative Forum at the Fairfield Public Library.
Audience member Deniz Comez asked the legislators what they thought about Rep. Pat Grassley’s House Study Bill 187, which would cap tax credits at $400 million, and then lower them $10 million a year to $370 million. Comez said the bill would harm renewable energy companies that rely on the tax credits.
Sen. Mark Chelgren said he had not read the text of the bill, but said he would probably support it.
“Where do tax credits to specific industries fall on our priority list?” he asked.
Rep. Dave Heaton agreed, saying “We need to wean ourselves from tax credits and put a cap on them.”
Rep. Curt Hanson said, “Solar energy is our future, and we’ve been slower than other nations in supporting it.”
Instead of cutting tax credits for renewable energy, Hanson suggested ending subsidies to large corporations such as John Deere and Monsanto.
Sen. Rich Taylor said the purpose of tax credits was to support new industries, especially green energy industries. However, he also saw the need to eliminate some tax credits.
“You shouldn’t need those tax credits once your business is established,” he said.
Audience member Martha Wick, who works for Indian Hills Community College, followed up on Comez’s question by telling the panel that House Study Bill 187 covers many programs, such as support for workforce training, which she believes should be excluded.
Wick said she worried that there might be unintended consequences of the bill the legislators were not aware of. She said the workforce training program that would be affected by the bill helps small businesses.
Heaton held up a packet of papers listing all the tax credits the state honors.
“We’re looking at welfare,” he said.
Heaton said he did not think community colleges would be affected by the bill.
Hanson said it was not a good idea to use a “meat ax” to chop off large chunks of the budget, which is what he felt the bill was doing.
Chelgren said the best way to train taxpayers so that they add to the tax base was to create high-paying jobs. He mentioned that community colleges are allowed to last several years in other countries, but have been limited to two years here.