Three states have rolled out changes that will impact tech startups. Iowa is expanding its partnership with online payments processor Dwolla, setting up a model for other states to bring more user fee payments online. In New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez is out with a new proposal designed to increase investments in technology and startups. In Utah, former Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell will now serve as chair of the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) Governing Authority. Bell, now president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association, takes the place of outgoing chair Dinesh Patel, a business leader who has led USTAR since its inception in 2006.
Dwolla was the Internet’s first payment network, and is working to bring on public sector contracts. The expansion of the partnership in Iowa will allow carrier customers of the Iowa Department of Transportation to use Dwolla when filing and paying International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) returns and International Registration Plan (IRP) fees. As the only online payment option for the nearly 55,000 annual transactions, the new partnership provides the state and its tax payers a streamlined online process and turnaround time.
The State of Iowa announced its first partnership with Dwolla in early 2013. It allowed retailers to pay more than $100 million in cigarette stamp taxes through the Iowa Department of Revenue. In July 2013, nearly a dozen Iowa counties began accepting the low-cost payment network for their individual vehicle registration and property taxes.
“We’re excited about the state’s expanded use of Dwolla and are continuing to explore new ways to use the payment network,” said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.
In New Mexico, the Governor is proposing to improve the tax treatment of innovation activities by expanding the use of the Angel Investment Credit, allowing for greater private investment in small New Mexico start-ups, and reforming the Technology Jobs Tax Credit and the current, relatively unused Research and Development Small Business Tax Credit to better support New Mexico companies that are creating jobs through their research and development activities.
Under the terms of the proposal, the maximum individual investment in the Angel Investment Credit would grow from $100,000 to $250,000, and increasing the overall cap on the credit from $750,000 to $2 million.
Governor Martinez also proposed to combine the Technology Jobs Tax Credit with the current Research and Development Small Business Tax Credit. The Governor’s approach would increase the percent of new investment for which credit can be claimed, enhance the benefits related to the creation of new technology-related jobs and infrastructure investment in New Mexico, and make the credit refundable in order to assist companies engaging in early R&D activities.
In addition, the Governor has allocated $2 million to the Technology Research Collaborative in order to fund enterprising projects with commercial potential that are the result of partnerships between researchers at New Mexico’s laboratories and universities, and the private sector.
Finally, USTAR in UTAH is getting new leadership. Former Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell will take over from founding leader Dinesh Patel who is term limited out. To ensure a smooth transition, Gov. Herbert has appointed Bell so he can work with Patel as immediate past chair for the next six months. USTAR is a 30-year program designed to create high-quality jobs and improve Utah’s economy through commercialization of university research and by supporting high-tech start-ups in rural areas of the state. Governing Authority positions are all voluntary and non-paid.
USTAR also announced the resignation of executive director Ted McAleer, who has served since October 2006. McAleer had committed to a 4-year term, but continued for an additional three years to complete the construction of USTAR buildings at the University of Utah and Utah State University, and initiate other programs.