Governor Chet Culver’s only legislative accomplishment in his first four years in office is the state’s massive public works program, which he calls I-Jobs. Culver sold the idea to borrow nearly $900 million to Democrats in the Iowa legislature by promising that I-Jobs would create 30,000 new jobs.
Despite the influx of state spending thanks to Culver’s I-Jobs projects, Iowa’s unemployment rate continues to rise. When the I-Jobs legislation was passed in the spring of 2009, Iowa’s unemployment rate was at 5.8 percent, and 96,200 Iowans were out of work. Today, Iowa’s unemployment rate stands at 6.8 percent, with 114,000 Iowans looking for work.
Instead of creating the 30,000 jobs that Culver’s promised, Iowa has actually lost 17,800 jobs, yet Iowa taxpayers will still have to foot the bill. Each year, the State of Iowa will have to make a $55 million payment on Culver’s I-Jobs program. Those payments will have to be made for the next 23 years. That means that, while a lot of projects around the state are being funded now, the state’s ability to make infrastructure improvements in the future will be extremely limited until Culver’s I-Jobs debt is paid off.
As one would expect, Culver’s I-Jobs program has been a focal point of his re-election campaign. After getting frustrated with Republican Terry Branstad’s criticism of the program, Culver asked his opponent to name just three projects that he would oppose. Branstad never took the bait, but there are plenty of projects that have nothing to do with job creation or flood recovery, yet Culver and the Democrats think it is worth mortgaging the future for this scheme.
Instead of providing Governor Culver with three projects that should be opposed, let’s start with fifteen. The I-Jobs board has issued grants for fifteen different recreational trails that total more that $3.5 million. While recreational trails are popular for bikers and joggers, they don’t create jobs or spur economic growth. Spending money on recreational trails at a time when schools are suffering budget cuts and the state can’t meet its financial obligations is ridiculous.
In addition to the fifteen recreational trails, there are a number of other projects that are recreational in nature. From $296,000 for swimming pools in Algona and Belle Plain, to $350,000 for a performing arts center in Holstein, and $337,500 for an ice arena in Dubuque, I-Jobs is littered with special projects that our state government has no business financing.
It is ironic that Culver’s I-Jobs program would spend money on such projects since he blasted his 2006 opponent in a TV ad for “wasting $50 million dollars for a rainforest in Iowa, and voting millions more for a world toilet summit in Ireland.” While Culver was against the rain forest, he’s now funding a National Balloon Museum, the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum, and a $15 million event center in Cedar Rapids.
Culver laughed at his opponent’s support of the world toilet summit, but now he’s pro-toilet, too. I-Jobs is giving money so that state parks can update their restroom facilities. The aforementioned examples are just a sampling of what Culver’s I-Jobs program is funding.
While the program does spend money on some necessary flood prevention projects, it also spends millions on things that are simply unnecessary. When times get tough for Iowa families, they don’t build swimming polls or landscape their yards. Instead, they conserve their resources and only spend money on the necessities.
Nobody should be surprised that Culver’s I-Jobs program hasn’t created any jobs. I-Jobs was never designed to create jobs. Rather, it was designed just to spend money on government projects. The only thing this program has to do with jobs is that it is called “I-Jobs.” Governor Culver and the Democrats who voted for this monstrous program want voters to believe it has created jobs, but the only thing it has created is more government spending.
In their first gubernatorial debate, Culver tried to defend I-Jobs and its importance in getting the state moving in the right direction again. Branstad, on the other hand, insisted that the state should have continued to invest in infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis. Branstad also made the point that a pay-as-you-go approach actually allows you to invest in twice as many projects because you don’t have to pay all the interest that is associated with borrowing money.
With Election Day just around the corner, Governor Culver must defend his signature legislative accomplishment. It is likely that Culver will underperform at the polls just like his I-Jobs program has underperformed in job creation. While Iowans are likely to replace Culver in November, they are going to get stuck with the tab. You’d better enjoy those recreational facilities and trails.
Photo by Dave Davidson
blog comments powered by Disqus