Governor: review all state tax credits

You may recognize that headline above.  It was attached to this September 23, 2009 Radio Iowa story.  Governor Chet Culver indicated during an interview with Radio Iowa and the Cedar Rapids Gazette that his new chief of staff, John Frew, would be talking with state agency directors, asking for a review of state tax credits.

Now, today, November 19, 2009 — about two months later — the governor’s staff issued the following, suggesting that review is starting…right….about…!

State agency directors to submit report, provide recommendations on credits

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today ordered a comprehensive review of each of the state’s 30 tax credit programs. He asked the Directors of the six state agencies that oversee the tax credit programs to submit a review of their respective department’s tax credit programs. Those Directors will then serve on a panel to review the programs and submit a report to the Governor addressing oversight, accountability, transparency, public reporting, cost-benefit, and which programs should be continued, curtailed, and or eliminated.

The Governor named Iowa Department of Management Director (IDOM) Dick Oshlo to chair the panel. The review will be due to IDOM at the close of business on Dec. 4, 2009. The panel will hold two public meetings to discuss the review in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids the week of Dec. 7, 2009. Dates and locations of the public meetings are yet to be determined.

The following letter was sent to agency directors today:

Dear Agency Directors:

During recent months the Culver-Judge Administration has worked to address the budget challenges facing the State of Iowa. In preparation for submitting my budget to the general assembly in January, we are reviewing all areas of state spending, including annual state investments in the form of tax credits. It is essential that we evaluate the expense and effectiveness of each tax credit program to ensure that Iowans are receiving an appropriate return on our investment.

Today I am announcing the creation of a tax credit review panel to be headed by Department of Management Director Dick Oshlo.  As Directors of tax credit administering agencies, you will also serve on the panel. The panel is to prepare a report to the Governor with recommendations for each tax credit program, including oversight, accountability, transparency, public reporting, cost-benefit, and which programs should be continued, curtailed, and or eliminated.

There are many stakeholders in the state tax credit programs and we need to hear from each of them.  The panel will meet once in Des Moines and once in Cedar Rapids during the week of December 7th to allow the tax credit program participants as well as the general public to voice their opinions and concerns.

To assist the panel with their work, I am asking you to submit information on your respective departments’ tax credits to the Iowa Department of Management by close of business December 4, 2009. Submissions should include the following information for each tax credit program administered by your agency:

  • General description of the purpose of the tax credit
  • Minimum, maximum and average value of tax credits issued
  • Contingency liability for each tax credit
  • Number of tax credits issued each year
  • Number of individuals and/or businesses served by the tax credit
  • Whether the tax credit is transferable and, if so, how many times
  • Whether the tax credit is refundable
  • Processes for oversight and regulation of the tax credit
  • The Return on Investment for the tax credit
  • Data on the fiscal impact of the tax credit for the past ten years, if available
  • A description of what information is currently made available to the public for the tax credit(s) administered by each agency.

If you have any questions, please contact Dick Oshlo at 515-281-5201.Thank you for assistance in this important matter.


Chester J. Culver
Governor of Iowa

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.