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Chamber of Commerce lobbying organization announces 2014 Iowa legislative priorities

North Iowa Commerce Center, home of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce
North Iowa Commerce Center, home of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce
DES MOINES – Building on the bipartisan successes of the 2013 legislative session that produced significant reforms, members of the Iowa Chamber Alliance believe there is opportunity to further improve Iowa’s business climate and economy during the 2014 legislative session. The Alliance has outlined an agenda of issues and strategic policy recommendations for creating an environment conducive to economic growth at a news conference held in Des Moines today.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance believes growth can be achieved with competitive and fair taxes, responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars, necessary investments in the full spectrum of infrastructure, forward-looking programs that incent entrepreneurship and attract investment and a predictable and responsive regulatory environment.

“We are optimistic that the 2014 legislative session will be productive in addressing economic development and business policy issues in a meaningful way, paving the way for economic growth into the future,” said Dan Culhane, Alliance Chair and President of the Ames Chamber of Commerce. “Although there has been progress on several fronts, there is still room for improvement. Iowa’s tax system remains a barrier to economic growth.

Adequate resources are still needed for economic development. We need to support flexible economic development incentives and local economic development tools to keep Iowa competitive with other states and encourage job creation. We must address transportation and infrastructure funding and continue to keep education and workforce issues at the forefront.”

The Alliance, a non-partisan coalition representing the 16 largest chambers of commerce and economic development organizations throughout the state, advocates for strategic, aggressive, forward-thinking statewide policies and programs that stimulate strong economic growth, support Iowa businesses and business attraction, generate additional jobs, and increase state and local revenues ensuring an improved quality of life for all Iowans.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance encourages the Governor and Iowa Legislature to address the following critical issues in 2014, to encourage and facilitate economic growth in Iowa.

Priority Issues

Taxes

The Alliance believes Iowa must continue to improve its tax climate, both taxes on corporations and individuals, in order to be competitive with other states. Iowa’s current tax system is a barrier to growth and puts Iowa at a competitive disadvantage for business expansion and location decisions. The Alliance supports efforts to simplify and reduce corporate income taxes. Along with implementation of commercial and industrial property tax reform, the Alliance supports addressing unfunded mandates, pensions and other measures to help offset rollback effects on local governments.

Economic Development

Iowa’s economic development efforts are generating a good return on investment. Billions of private capital has been invested in Iowa. The Alliance believes the Iowa Economic Development Authority needs additional funding for smart economic development programs and incentives if it wants to effectively compete for investments and jobs. The Alliance supports fully funding the High Quality Jobs Program, updating the Enterprise Zone Program, which expires in June 2014, and protecting local development tools and programs to attract quality jobs, foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Transportation & Infrastructure

Iowa has significant infrastructure needs – concrete, asphalt, steel and fiber. Iowa can no longer afford to put off its infrastructure needs. Our road system requires immediate attention. The Iowa Chamber Alliance supports fully funding the Transportation Investment Moves the Economy in the 21st Century Fund (TIME-21). The Alliance also supports new or alternative sources of revenue including a fuel tax increase. Additionally, the Alliance believes Iowa’s broadband infrastructure is key to economic growth in the 21st Century and supports creating an environment to encourage investments in broadband to assure our economic future. The Alliance remains supportive of leveraging federal dollars to invest in passenger and intermodal rail in Iowa.

Workforce Development & Education

The education reforms adopted in 2013 are a good start to revamping Iowa’s schools. However, there continues to be significant gaps between the skills sought by Iowa employers and the skills and knowledge of our workforce. The gap will only widen if actions are not taken. The Alliance supports equipping the workforce of today with needed skills via career readiness programs such as Skilled IOWA; expanding Iowa’s STEM skills initiatives in K-12; and continued education reform focused on recruiting and retaining talented educators, establishing measurable high expectations through a common core curriculum, fostering innovation in our schools and encouraging parental engagement.

General Business

The Alliance supports periodic reviews and cost benefit analyses of government agency rules and regulations in cooperation with affected businesses and organizations to ensure a minimally invasive and efficient regulatory environment. Rules and regulations should be evaluated regularly for necessity, effectiveness, cost-efficiency, enforceability and financial impact. Regulatory stability and responsiveness is a critical component of the business climate.

The fiscal health of state and local government is an important factor in attracting and retaining businesses. Toward that end, the Alliance supports efforts to modernize and reform budget practices at all levels of government including efforts to reduce revenue demand from local and state governments through pension reforms.

About the Iowa Chamber Alliance
The mission of the Iowa Chamber Alliance is to put forth and enact an agenda to grow the state’s economy through support of proactive programs that stimulate economic growth opportunities for the entire state and its residents.
Alliance members include chambers and economic development organizations in: Ames, Burlington/West Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine, the Quad Cities, Sioux City and Waterloo/Cedar Falls.

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