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Branstad to stage big bill signing ceremony in Hiawatha

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa Republican governor and legislators from both parties will gather later today to witness the signing of legislation that cuts taxes for property owners and income taxpayers.

The bill signing ceremony will be staged in Hiawatha, the home of Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, and Governor Terry Branstad said it’s a way of giving Paulsen “credit” for his work on the tax package.

“He’s, I think, done a great job as speaker of the house. He’s been a really good ally for us to work with and without his leadership and his tenacity, I don’t think we would have gotten that accomplished,” Branstad said earlier this week. “Of course, we had to have the cooperation of Senator Gronstal and the other side, too, and we appreciate that.”

The governor has invited Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal to the event and Gronstal’s been invited to make a brief speech for the occasion, too.

“We are appreciative of Senator Gronstal and his leadership on the senate side,” Branstad said.

The bill includes a new tax credit for commercial property owners as well as a 10 percent roll-back of commercial property tax rates over the next two years. Property taxes on apartments and other “multi-residential” properties will eventually be cut in half. The legislation creates a new income tax credit that returns some of the state budget surplus to taxpayers. It’ll be worth about $60 next year. The already-existing earned income tax credit will be increased, a financial boost for low-income taxpayers.

Branstad has the authority to item veto portions of the bill, but he intends to approve “the entire bill.”

“This was a delicately worked out compromise that meets priorities of both the Republicans and the Democrats, both the House and the Senate,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference. “Most importantly, it’s going to reduce the tax burden for taxpayers in the state of Iowa — property tax andincome tax. I think it’s a win-win for everybody. I’m honored and proud to sign it.”

Branstad told reporters on Monday that Paulsen asked for the bill-signing ceremony to be staged in Hiawatha. Paulsen is considering a run for congress in 2014. Branstad is likely to seek reelection next year, too, and taking this event on the road “is what it is,” according to the governor.

“You know, there’s a lot of people in eastern Iowa, so it doesn’t hurt to do some things in that part of the state as well,” Branstad said.

Gronstal — the top Democrat in the Iowa Senate — is considering a run for governor in 2014, so two candidates for governor may be sharing the limelight later today. The event will be staged early this afternoon at Hawkeye Ready-Mix, a company that provides concrete for homeowners, businesses and road construction crews.