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March 19th, 2009

Culver’s Bonding Bill in Jeopardy – Return of the Gas Tax?

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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culverindebtGovernor Chet Culver’s $750 million bonding proposal is has met serious objections with Democrats in the House and Senate. Legislative Democrats want to change everything in Culver’s proposal from what the money would be used for to the types of bonds that will be used to fund the program.

The news of the dissension from fellow Democrats comes as Culver is on a statewide tour trying to build support for his proposal. Democrat lawmakers are offering a different $700 billion dollar bonding plan that would not provide one dime for bridge and road repairs. Instead their plan calls for: $325 million for flood recovery projects; $200 million for new public buildings, repairs, rural broadband, and rail hubs; and $175 million for ongoing projects.

The legislative Democrats’ proposal couldn’t be more different from Culver’s. Culver’s proposal uses road and bridge repairs to make it an easy sell for lawmakers and Iowans. A majority of Iowans support spending money to make sure state and local roads and bridges are in good shape. To bolster Culver’s plan, he can simply cite the Iowa D.O.T’s Time 21 Study which calls for increased funds.

By removing bonding money for roads and bridges, legislative Democrats are making a radical change to Culver’s proposal. Legislative Democrats want the bulk of the bonding money to go for flood recovery projects. By making flood recovery the centerpiece of their proposal, it will be difficult for Republicans and Culver to oppose their plan. That said, their refusal to do anything about Iowa’s roads and bridges could reignite the debate for an eight-cent increase in the state’s gas tax.

While this is another embarrassment for Governor Culver, it’s also a bad deal for Iowans.

Both Culver and legislative Democrats want to borrow massive amounts of money, which will allow them to spend more money than the state takes in. Legislative Democrats don’t want to commit to paying back the debt with only gambling revenues. They prefer to decide which funds to use each year, which they argue will save the state millions of dollars.

Regardless of what proposal moves forward, Democrats will be saddling future generations with debt that they will have to deal with for years to come. More troubling is the possibility that the Democrats could pass a $700 million bonding proposal AND increase the gas tax.

The possibility of a bonding bill and gas tax increase happening is significant. We already know that some Republicans are open to the idea of increasing the gas tax, and it will also be politically difficult for Republicans to oppose money for flood recovery projects.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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