House Speaker Upmeyer says 2018 Iowa legislative session may end this weekend

DES MOINES — Key lawmakers say a flurry of votes on budget bills and a massive tax plan will likely bring the 2018 Iowa legislature to a close — sometime this weekend.

“There might be one or two things that still have question marks, but I think things are ready to roll,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, told reporters Thursday. “…Things sometimes get bumpy, but we’re ready to move forward and complete our work and adjourn.”

The details of the GOP’s tax plan were released in bill form late Thursday afternoon. Representative Guy Vander Linden, a Republican from Oskaloosa who’s chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said it will provide a “significant” individual income tax cut, without going overboard.

“It is prudent. It is carefully considered, given the amount of time it’s taken to produce it,” Vander Linden told reporters, “and I think it’s a good piece of legislation.”

Vander Linden said while there are roughly $400 million in annual income tax cuts, part of that will be offset by new sales tax collections on digital purchases.

“We are not raising sales tax. We are broadening it and, more importantly, we are making the sales tax parallel the economy,” Vander Linden said. “If the sales tax is going to be viable, we have to tax products that are in existence. We can’t tax buggy whips and expect to raise the revenue that is necessary to keep this ship afloat.”

Republicans hold a majority of seats in the Iowa House and Senate, which means the GOP controls the debate agenda. Democrats are using the word “regressive” to describe the GOP’s tax plan. And Democrats like Senator Matt McCoy of Des Moines have questioned whether now is the time to reduce state tax collections since lawmakers have had to make a series of state budget cuts in the past year.

“This is a time to be cautious, gentlemen and ladies. This is a time to be responsible. That’s the process of governing,” McCoy said during a committee meeting Wednesday. “During tough times and good times, you have to make sure that you’re accurately and adequately addressing the needs before you can do a major tax cut like this proposal.”

Republicans aim to bring the tax bill up for debate on Saturday — so that the House and Senate are voting on the bill at the same time.

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