If you listen to some State House veterans, the State of Iowa doesn’t have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem. We all know that Iowa’s budget problems are self-afflicted and if you need proof one only needs to look at the DNR’s $58 million resort on Lake Rathbun.
Yesterday we learned that the Honey Creek Resort lost almost a MILLION dollars in the first ten months of operation. Why on earth the State of Iowa is in the resort business is beyond me, but this is a perfect example of government sticking its nose in an area it has no business or experience being in.
Last fall, the DNR made a presentation about how well things are going at Honey Creek to the Legislature’s Oversight Committee. One would think that the legislators were warned about the financial troubles of their new venture, but instead they were told about how many weddings were booked and how great things were at the resort. They were shown some nice photos and a few TV ads encouraging people to visit Honey Creek.
If you want proof of how meaningless the legislative oversight process is you just need to look at what the House Democrats said about the meeting.
“Members of the Legislature’s Oversight Committee were provided an update on the status of Honey Creek Resort State Park. As of late September, the resort has officially been open one year. DNR reported that 31 weddings were booked in 2009 and 19 weddings are booked for 2010. They have booked many conferences and family reunions.
Although the resort saw a slow start, DNR reports they are now seeing higher guest reservations and the luxury cabins have been hugely successful. Additionally, the resort’s marina is now open, offering boat slips for guests and lake boaters, boat rentals, and fishing opportunities for the whole family. The department said the challenges they are having include construction, weather and flooding, the economic downturn, not having an operating history, and repayment of the bonds that were issued to construct the park.
The resort is currently partnering with Iowa State University to convert their solar building into a new activities center for the resort. At their October meeting, the Natural Resources Commission is entering into a $153,000 agreement to purchase this renewable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly building.”
Hmmmm what’s missing here? Could it be the fact that this resort is becoming an albatross funded by Iowa taxpayers?
What should concern Republicans is the fact that one of Honey Creek’s biggest supporters was former State Senator Jeff Lamberti. Lamberti was instrumental in passing the legislation that established the project. While I’m sure the lodge, cabins, and water park are pretty cool, we should have asked ourselves why should the state be involved in this enterprise. I’m pretty confident that Mr. Lamberti fashions himself as a conservative, but what conservative principles lead us to think that this is a constitutional function of the state?
What really disturbs me is the fact that I actually agree with Sen. Matt McCoy on something. McCoy has drafted a bill that would remove the state from managing the resort’s daily operations. This is an argument that conservative Republicans should be making if you ask me.
It just makes me wonder where are our fiscally conservative Republicans in the legislature? If it were up to me, I’d rename the water park Boondoggle Bay.
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