The Senate Ways & Means Committee recently approved two bills that will help expand Iowa's middle class by creating good jobs in fields that improve our state's economy and quality of life.
The first builds on a state tax credit for installing solar energy systems that was enacted in 2012. This legislation set aside $1.5 million in tax credits annually for the installation of solar energy systems on homes, businesses and farms. In addition, it allowed Iowa to take advantage of a federal tax credit that also promoted installation of solar energy systems.
The program has been popular. Last year, businesses and homeowners claimed nearly all of the tax credits, and certificates were issued for more than $685,000 in state tax credits in the first two months of this year. The surge in installations has created jobs for solar energy installers and technicians to service the systems.
The success of these tax credits is proof that solar energy works in Iowa and helps meet our energy needs. SF 2340 would increase the tax credits to $4.5 million to meet Iowans' demand for solar energy. This boost will help create more jobs for the installation and maintenance of hundreds of additional solar projects each year.
The second bill would provide more help for fixing up abandoned buildings and blighted areas, which can be an eyesore and a drag on property values. Abandoned buildings provide zero jobs, but a redeveloped building can house new businesses that boost local economic activity.
Redevelopment Tax Credits provide an incentive to redevelop environmentally challenged areas and blighted properties. These can be costly projects, but redevelopment increases the property's value as well as that of neighboring properties.
SF 2339 would expand Iowa's Redevelopment Tax Credit Program by making public buildings eligible for the tax credits. That means abandoned schools could be more affordably redeveloped. The bill also makes the tax credits refundable for nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.