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ORASCOM DEAL: Two Leaders Disagree

Monday, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad used the words, “job killer”, to describe Senator Joe Bolkcom, an Iowa City Democrat, a frequent critic of the governor’s efforts to lure jobs to the state.

Branstad reinforced his support to provide an additional $25 million in tax credits for Egyptian-based Orascom, the company building what could become a $1.8 billion fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa’s Lee County.

The credits would push the state’s incentives’ package past $84 million, which doesn’t count another nearly $300 in federal incentives, plus another possible $25 million from the state next year.

Branstad said the incentives are necessary because the legislature failed to lower corporate income taxes, which he said is the highest in the country.

Bolkcom countered that the incentives’ deal gives too much money to a huge company, instead of focusing on Iowa businesses. He said, “I’m not aware of any proposal from the governor on corporate taxes.”

The governor admitted he didn’t push for corporate tax reform during the past legislative session. He argued since the reform didn’t happen the year before, when he proposed it, he figured Bolkcom would again oppose it.

Orascom plans to hire 165 permanent workers at the Lee County facility, in addition to 2,500 temporary workers who would work on various phases of construction.

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