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Guest: Let’s create jobs — not raise taxes — to grow economy

BY BRAD ZAUN - GUEST OPINION | FEBRUARY 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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Late last summer, we were all treated to the media blockbuster regarding Iowa’s film tax-credit program and the soap-opera antics concerning millions of tax dollars going to buy questionable purchases for movie-production companies. Heads rolled — proverbially, of course — and a Tax Credit Review Panel was convened to take an in-depth view of all of Iowa’s tax credits.

On Jan. 8, that report was released, with recommendations including capping credits to prevent unsustainable trends, sun-setting all credits to provide greater accountability and transparency, removing the refund ability of others, and outright elimination of eight tax-credit programs. The scrutiny, thoroughness, and thoughtfulness of the review panel is to be commended, and its suggestions should be taken seriously.

Of concern, however, is the recent plot line now developing that somehow tax credits are a form of “corporate welfare” and the reason Iowa is in the fiscal mess we are in today. Casting all of the blame for Iowa’s eroding fiscal condition on tax credits is misguided. Instead, we must reverse the three years of unsustainable and irresponsible spending that has created our $1 billion deficit and work to grow our economy by creating jobs.

We should utilize the Tax Credit Review Panel’s recommendations to create common-sense solutions — not use it as an opportunity to create a crisis and then propose to solve it by increasing taxes on hard-working Iowans. This is not the time to be raising taxes. We should instead be working together to find common sense solutions that will create and retain private sector jobs.

For example, the Iowa Industrial New Jobs Training Program is extremely important to anybody who may have been laid off and is now looking for a new job. The Historical Preservation and Cultural Entertainment District Tax Credit has helped bring a major employer to Iowa and with it, good-paying jobs. Other tax credits include the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income earners and the Tuition Tax Credits for parents who want their children to have additional education opportunities. The new green economy has been helped by the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit and the Renewable Energy Tax Credit.

We all agree that there should be more transparency and accountability with these tax credits, but it is just simply wrong for politicians to unfairly label all tax credits as “corporate welfare.” The overwhelming majority of these tax credits help our economy, create and retain jobs, and directly affect our children, seniors, and veterans.

While we should constantly evaluate Iowa’s tax credits to ensure they are working for our benefit, tax credits should not become the scapegoat for Iowa’s budget fiasco. Overspending is the real problem. Be wary of politicians who claim they will stop corporate tax-credit subsidies to “save” the little guy. In reality, these politicians are only interested in raising your taxes so their reckless spending and irresponsible budgeting can continue.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, is the ranking member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and is a candidate in the Republican primary in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.


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