Candidate Q & A: Jeff Wright Says Lack of Property Tax Reform Was Session's Biggest Failure
Jeff Wright, a lawyer and Ankeny resident, is challenging five other candidates for a chance to appear on the November ballot for the Iowa House District 37 seat.
Ankeny voters will head to the polls June 5 to decide which Republican candidates will appear on the November ballot this year in a bid to serve in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Ankeny is represented by two districts, House District 37 and 38.
Today, we're introducing you to Ankeny resident Jeff Wright. He is one of six candidates running for the District 37 GOP nomination.
Whoever wins the primary will face unopposed Democrat candidate Neal Tracy in November.
Address: 1318 N.W. Shoreline Court, Ankeny
Employer: Carr & Wright P.L.C.
Number of years lived in the district: 5
Summary of education: B.A. in International Affairs from Morningside College in Sioux City (2000); J.D. from Drake University Law School (2006).
Family: Wife, Marnae; son Ben; second child due in August.
What do you see as the state government's role, what should it do for taxpayers and what should it stay out of?
The most important role of government is to serve its citizens. In doing this, it is responsible for ensuring individual rights, protecting the Constitutions of both Iowa and the United States and ensuring that people have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Far too many times government is looked to as the answer to all of our problems. However, often it is government that is at the creator of our problems.
When it comes to taxpayers, government has one essential role: balance a budget without placing burdensome taxes on individuals and businesses. Taxes are inevitable, but when government starts believing that government run programs are the answer to our problems then spending spins out of control. Entrepreneurs create jobs not government; and the government has a responsibility to ensure that taxes do not encumber job creation or place too high of a strain on individuals.
What were the top 3 successes of the most recent legislative session?
- Spending – The legislature and the governor worked hard and succeeded in holding the line on increased spending.
- Mental Health Reform – Taking the action necessary to reduce and eliminate waitlists for mental health services were a necessary step in providing necessary services to people who desperately need them.
- Business Incentives – The legislature did improve some business incentives. While there is still a long way to go to improve the business climate in Iowa, this is a good step to show the legislature understands there is a problem.
What were the 3 biggest failures?
- Property Taxes – This issue is the most important issue currently facing our state. Unfortunately, no movement was made on it during this session. To truly allow our economy to grow it is imperative that we reduce the tax burden on our citizens and businesses.
- Spending – While the legislature and the governor worked hard to hold the line on spending; they failed at reducing it. Property tax reform failed in large part because of an inability to cut the state’s budget. Reducing spending and not just holding the line is the only way to truly provide tax relief to Iowans.
- Education Reform – Education reforms enacted this year were skin deep at best. Iowa needs to reform the Department of Education and increase local control of education. It should be up to parents and teachers to make educational decisions, not the state.
How can the state restructure property taxes without shifting the burden to homeowners?
Iowa has one of the highest property tax rates in the country, and those burdensome taxes are inhibiting growth in our state. However, it is important that we do not simply pass the burden on to the cities, counties and citizens. Along with property tax relief, we must reduce government spending. I will work to cut wasteful government spending and reduce our state’s budget.
Property tax relief is only part of solution. Along with property tax relief, I will work to simplify the corporate tax structure. Doing this will make Iowa more appealing to business without resorting to tax abatements that only help a small percentage of businesses. A more streamline tax structure will aid not only businesses looking to relocate to Iowa, but will also help those which are already here, as well as reduce the burden on homeowners.
Is the current tax structure hurting the state's economy?
Yes. As I have stated throughout this campaign, Iowa needs a more simplified tax structure. Our current system is too complicated and inhibits business growth. Our corporate property tax rate is near the highest in the nation and our reputation for being a business friendly state is near the bottom. It is essential that we change the tax structure to make Iowa a better place for business.
Should the next legislature take up the issue of same sex marriage? What would you propose?
Yes. The legislature should take the steps necessary to allow the people to vote on a constitutional amendment. I would support a bill such as HJR 6. The people have a right to vote on this issue and I would support measures which would give them that right. It is not up to the government to decide this issue.
Should the remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of allowing same sex marriage be removed from the bench? Why or why not?
As with the issue of same sex marriage it is important to allow people the right to vote on this judge retention. Our current system allows citizens to vote and I would work to ensure that right remains for all Iowans for the future and benefit of our state.
Finally, we'll close on a lighter note. Tell voters one fun, random fact about you they probably don't know.
I am left-handed and have been a baseball player my entire life. However, when I was growing up my dad played golf, so I wanted to play, too. My dad insisted that I play golf right-handed so I would not “mess up my baseball swing.” It seemed to work, too, because I went on to play baseball through high school and college and was the team captain and an All-State player in high school.
However, he later told me the reason he wanted me to play golf right-handed was because in those days it was much too hard to find left-handed clubs. To this day I only play golf right-handed and baseball left-handed.