A long-discussed legislative review of state tax credits in Iowa is finally under way.
A review committee of lawmakers, mandated in a tax reform package passed by the Legislature in 2018, convened its first meeting on Oct. 30. Unfortunately, the meeting lasted only a couple of hours and appeared to produce little but disagreement about when the next meeting would be held (no decision on a second meeting was made).
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Why did it take so long for the review committee to begin its work and why was the initial meeting so lacking in meaningful discussion? That suggests a lack of, well, enthusiasm on the part of majority Republicans about what should be an important priority given the amount of money involved in these tax credit programs (the value of state tax credits for 2019 is, according to the Department of Revenue, $373 million).
We do not suggest the need exists for a dramatic elimination of tax credit programs in the state. As we have said before, members of our editorial board believe, as a fundamental principle, in the value of tax incentives - at the state as well as the local level. To play with success in the competitive arena of economic development, Iowa (and Woodbury County and Sioux City) must use incentives, including tax incentives.
However, no state lawmaker of either party or chamber should oppose a comprehensive evaluation of each individual tax credit program in Iowa to determine if all of the tax credits are effective and necessary. That's just good government.
So we say, let this process proceed.
And pick up the pace a little.