DES MOINES — The Iowa House has voted to scale back or halt some state tax-credit programs, bring all credits under more scrutiny and add another year’s suspension to the beleaguered film tax incentive program.
Senate File 2380, which representatives approved Friday on a 54-43 vote, would keep the film tax-credit program in abeyance until July 1, 2013, under House-approved changes. It also would bring all credits under review and make other modifications that Rep. Paul Shomshor, D-Council Bluffs, expected the Senate would accept and send to Gov. Chet Culver next week.
“I think Senate File 2380 is a good step forward,” Shomshor said.
Rep. Tom Sands, R-Wapello, who offered an amendment that included the longer film tax-credit suspension, said he supports the incentive but wanted to provide enough time to revamp it properly and allow the Iowa Attorney General Office to sort through criminal and civil matters stemming from allegations of mismanagement, lax oversight, irregularities and theft. He said the suspension could be lifted if the program is retooled sooner.
A fiscal note issued by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projected the savings under S.F. 2380 would be $5.4 million next fiscal year, $25.2 million in fiscal 2012 and $35.9 million in fiscal 2013 — with most of those reductions tied to the film credit suspension.
Minority Republicans tried unsuccessfully to designate that whatever reductions are made to state tax credits would be earmarked for property tax relief rather than flow into the general fund and spent.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the way to balance the budget,” said state Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-LeMars.
The bill would establish a statutory panel of legislators to review state tax credits over the next five years and lower the caps on certain business tax credits — including reducing the cap on economic development credits from $185 million to $120 million. It also would cut the Iowa Fund of Funds contingent tax credits from $100 million to $60 million and place more focus of research tax credits to smaller-sized businesses.