Last Friday, Governor Culver announced the details of his $750 million bonding proposal. There was just one problem: there was not many details. It was just a plan to max out the state’s credit cards under the guise of stimulating the state’s economy.
Governor Culver claims that for every $100 million spent on infrastructure, nearly 2,800 jobs would be created and retained, meaning he expects his bonding proposal to create 21,000 jobs. Many Republicans doubt that Culver’s plan will create anything near that number of jobs.
In fact, some have pointed out that Culver’s plan, which is spread out over 3 years, could only employ 8300 people at $30,000 a year for three years if every dime was spent on salaries. So, we are really looking at spending $750 million on a few thousand jobs. More troubling to Republican leaders is that the proposal only focuses on creating temporary construction jobs, not the permanent jobs that Iowa needs.
State Senator Paul McKinley, the Republican Leader in Senate said, “Iowans are fast growing tired of the same irresponsible debt laden spending sprees that Governor Culver and legislative Democrats continue to trot out that will only create temporary work not permanent jobs in Iowa. We are on the verge of starting the tenth week of this year’s session, there are over 80,000 Iowans who are unemployed, and the governor and legislative Democrats have not yet considered a single piece of legislation that will create permanent jobs and grow Iowa’s economy. The Democrat proposal would add over a billion dollars to the state’s credit card during uncertain economic times and then force our children and grandchildren to foot the burdensome bill.”
The first phase of Culver’s bonding proposal was passed in the State Senate late last week on a party-line vote. This portion of the proposal dealt with $175 million to complete projects that have already been scheduled. Thankfully a couple of amendments passed to take out funding for bike trails, yet I’m told money for highway fence is still available. Yes, we are going to go into debt over highway fence.
The other phases of the bill include $250 million for transportation projects, $150 million for public buildings and disaster relief, $100 million for water quality and waste water improvements, and $75 million for local infrastructure, broadband technology, and alternative energy infrastructure.
Governor Culver also released the criteria he will use to select projects that will receive bonding dollars. His top priority in making these selections is how quickly a contractor claims a project can be started and completed. This is a dangerous way to award state government contracts, especially when you consider that his fourth priority is to leverage these dollars in order to get additional federal, state, and private dollars for projects.
These two priorities are counterintuitive. How can the Governor expect to leverage these funds if his top priority is to fund projects that are shovel-ready? Governor Culver’s bonding proposal is nothing more than a way for him and Iowa Democrats to spend more money and thank their friends in the labor unions who contribute to their campaigns.
It seems that Governor Culver is only focused on creating temporary jobs in the construction industry. Whatever happened to doing something that would stop Iowa’s brain-drain by creating good paying job opportunities for those who are graduating from our colleges and universities? Does the Governor expect them to join a road crew after graduation? And what happens to all of those construction jobs after everything is built?
In difficult times like these, it is important for our leaders to cast a long term vision of what our state should look like for future generations. Unfortunately, Governor Culver and Democrat leaders in the legislature are only looking at things that will help them survive the next election. Infrastructure is important, but Culver’s plan to saddle future generations with $750 million in debt is irresponsible.
Governor Culver and the Democrats like to mention that Iowa has an AAA bond rating. The notion that we should borrow simply because we can, gives you a good glimpse at the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Instead of making difficult decisions to cut spending in certain areas, Governor Culver has chosen to take out the state’s credit card and try to spend our way out of this financial mess.
The dangerous thing for Iowans to remember is that there is no limit on how much Culver and the Democrats can charge on the taxpayer’s charge card. We must remember that it is Governor Culver and our Democrat Leaders who are responsible for the state’s financial crisis after they increased state spending by nearly a billion dollars in only the span of a few years.
Are we really going to let them go out on a shopping spree with OUR credit card?
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