DES MOINES - Veterans in Iowa would receive a larger property tax exemption under a bill approved Wednesday by a legislative panel.
A three-member subcommittee unanimously approved the measure, which now goes to the full House Ways and Means Committee.
Under current law, a property tax credit of $1,852 is available only for certain veterans. The bill would increase the amount to $3,704 for all eligible veterans beginning July 1.
The state appropriates a set amount to local governments to offset these costs. If state funding isn't sufficient, local governments would then have to pay any additional funds so veterans receive full credit.
Lucas Beenken, a lobbyist with the Iowa State Association of Counties, said local governments already pay a large amount to supplement these credits. By doubling them, he said he's concerned that local governments would have to take funds away from schools and other government-run entities.
Beenken also said local budgets are being set now, and enacting the legislation so soon wouldn't allow enough time to take the bill's provisions into consideration.
But supporters said the tax credits are a small price to pay to support veterans in the state.
Dan Gannon, a lobbyist with the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs, supported the bill, saying he would even like to see a further credit increase.
"If you're going to get the veterans to come here, I think it's something that needs to be changed," he said. "I know there is a cost involved, but I think it's time that we change this."
Rep. John Landon, R-, who chairs the subcommittee, said conversation about the bill will continue to address concerns.
"I think it needs to go to the full committee and receive some more discussion," he said.
Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, said he's open to any proposals designed to reduce taxes.