116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa legislators are set to slash affordable housing incentives pitched by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Early in the session, Reynolds proposed tens of millions of additional dollars in tax credits intended to increase the supply of housing in Iowa. Reynolds’ plan specifically targeted affordable housing, which she said would help “our communities thrive and our families move where opportunities await them.” Tax breaks to support more housing ought to be an easy bipartisan policy solution.
However, Republicans in the Legislature are balking at the scope of the governor’s proposal. They’re advancing bills with tax credits totaling half or less of the $50 million Reynolds envisioned, with none reserved for affordable housing.
During a recent committee meeting, GOP legislators said they favored less money because pandemic aid and infrastructure funding from the federal government might fill the need, the Des Moines Register reported last week. That’s a hypocritical take from a political party that has crusaded against federal largesse.
During the coronavirus pandemic, elected Republicans have warned against a “blue-state bailout” in the form of federal assistance for state and local governments whose budgets have been severely impacted by the crisis. Apparently a red-state bailout is somehow better.
Back when Democrats had some statewide political power in Iowa, Republicans criticized them for using federal money to plug holes in the state budget. Terry Branstad in 2010 staked his gubernatorial comeback on the criticism that Chet Culver was using one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses.
Despite their record of slamming federal aid, Iowa Republicans in 2021 are putting off pressing needs in hopes that the central government will send down a few bucks to cover our costs.
Over four legislative sessions with Reynolds as governor, this has been a recurring situation. Her fellow Republicans in the Legislature frequently disregard or severely downsize the ideas Reynolds pitches at the beginning of the session. Reynolds seems content to take the losing side in her disputes with the legislative branch of government.
The need for more housing in Iowa’s growing communities is well established and tax credits provide effective incentives to bolster the housing supply. Legislators would be wise to reconsider.
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