Tuesday, June 03, 2008

News From Iowa House GOP Leader Chris Rants

A Sad Day

You may have read the bad news today that Winnebago will be closing their doors in Charles City. Winnebago is one of Charles City’s three largest employers and beginning Aug. 1, nearly 270 Iowans will be out of a job.

Of course many will say there are numerous reasons for the closure of this plant—higher gas prices are leading to less demand for the RV’s, a slumping national economy is hurting businesses throughout the country, etc. However, I believe there are some measures that could have been taken this past year to prevent this tragedy from happening.

You might remember me talking and writing about bonus deprecation. This year Congress passed legislation that provided tax breaks for businesses who purchase new equipment. In order to insure that EVERY Iowa business who purchased this type of equipment could receive the tax break, Iowa needed to couple with the federal tax changes.

I proposed amendment H-8039 to Senate File 2123 which would have done just that. This amendment was also the perfect opportunity to stand up for little guy. Hometown Iowa businesses were going to be hit with an income tax increase of up to $30 million if the Legislature did not “couple” or mirror the federal tax changes in regards to bonus depreciation. Specifically, in this instance, Winnebago would have been able to purchase new equipment and lower their tax bill had this amendment passed.

The CEO of Winnebago wrote to me, explaining how important this measure was for Winnebago and their business. I stood on the House floor and read his correspondence to be sure that every Representative was fully aware of the situation. Knowing it would hurt Winnebago and other businesses across the state and completely disregarding the pleas from the Winnebago CEO himself, Democrats voted down the amendment on a party-line vote (47-53, HJ Page 440).

This is just another example of what the Democrats did to run over the little guy the past two years in the Legislature. When powerful lobbyists came calling, Democrats had no problem passing big tax breaks for Microsoft. But when a CEO of an Iowa company, that provides jobs for thousands of Iowans in our communities across the state pleads for Democrats to do the right thing, they turn around and put them out of business. The closing of this plant is truly unfortunate. But not nearly as unfortunate as having the ability to stop it from happening, but turning your back instead.

It may be too late for Winnebago, but if Iowans put Republicans in control of the House, they will be the last business to get stamped out.