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Sales tax rebate critical to speedway, area

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:32 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:54 a.m. CST

The opening of the Iowa Speedway came at a critical time for Newton and Jasper County.  We’d taken a significant economic hit with the loss of a major employer.  With the inaugural race season in 2006, we were no longer defined by our loss, but as the home of the Iowa Speedway.

However, it is no secret that the Iowa Speedway has had financial challenges.  Its future success is critical for Jasper County.

I’ve been working on legislation to help insure a solid future for the Iowa Speedway.  On Thursday, HSB 671 was voted on by the Ways and Means Committee.  The bill passed by a vote of 25-0.  It will likely be debated on the House Floor soon.

HSB 671 provides for a rebate of 5 percent of the sales tax on goods and services sold at the Iowa Speedway, the remaining 2 percent will stay with the schools and local governments, up to a cap of $12.5 million or Jan. 1, 2026.  This is similar to a bill previously signed into law which is set to expire in 2016.

Why is this proposal getting support from both sides of the aisle?  Because it is a performance-based incentive that only benefits Iowa Speedway if there is increased economic activity.  If there are no sales, there’s no sales tax. 

In fact, in order to reach the cap, Iowa Speedway would need to generate three times the sales at the track that the previous ownership groups generated, which will require an enhanced entertainment experience to attract more fans in the stands.  The rebate is a low cost, low risk performance incentive for Iowa Speedway and a win for Iowans.

NASCAR ownership is a game-changer.  I’ve discussed NASCAR’s long-term vision for the Iowa Speedway with track president, Jimmy Small.  It is a vast departure from the status quo. 

They plan to transform the underperforming speedway into a more popular regional attraction and a powerful economic engine for the area. NASCAR and the Iowa Speedway staff are committed to working in close collaboration with the community and state to maximize the economic potential of the Iowa Speedway.

I’m hopeful we can continue to work in a bi-partisan manner and get HSB 671 to the governor’s desk this session.  It is a significant step to ensure NASCAR’s long-term vision becomes reality.

Our top priority this year has been building a strong middle class from the ground up.  This week, two bills are moving through the Legislature that will help middle class families get ahead. 

One proposal will make it easier for parents to work and go to the school at the same time to help them upgrade their workforce skills and land a good-paying job.  Right now, the state offers child care assistance for working parents also going to school but the rigid requirements make it difficult for many families to qualify.

I would like to expand the program statewide, but the majority party wants to expand child care assistance in just four of Iowa’s 99 counties.  If hard-working parents want to work and attend school to get a better job, we should do all we can to help them.  It shouldn’t matter where they live.  

Another idea I support is expanding the child and dependent care tax credit.  By expanding the credit, it will put more money in the pockets of working families who have kids and are trying to make ends meet.

Since Iowa has one of the highest rates of two-parent working families in the country, these ideas will help us grow Iowa’s middle class and build a highly-skilled workforce.

• • •

I am proud to represent Newton, Baxter, Colfax, Kellogg, Lambs Grove, Mingo, Ira, Prairie City, and Valeria.  Feel free to contact me anytime via phone at 641-521-9260 or by email at dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov. Please visit my website at www.electkelley.com.  ‘Friend’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

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