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August 1st, 2010

The Inside Story on I-JOBS

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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By Senator Paul McKinley

The signature item of Governor Culver’s four years in office is his $1.7 billion dollar temporary work program known as I-JOBS. From the very beginning it has been a controversial debt laden program that has almost universally failed in it’s intended purposes with ever evolving temporary job creation numbers attached to it.

Given all the news about I-JOBS lately, here’s the latest inside story on Culver’s I-JOBS as it transpired:

  • When Governor Culver delivered the annual Condition of the State Address in January of 2009, he outlined his initial proposal to put Iowa into debt for $700 million. There were 86,900 unemployed Iowans.

  • A week later his Democratic legislative counterparts, not to be outspent by Governor Culver, rolled out their own proposal by adding an additional $50 million to the figure pitched by the governor bringing the grand total to $750 million.

  • Not long after, The Des Moines Register unveiled a new “Iowa Poll” showing that 71 percent of Iowans against the idea.

  • In the final hours of the session during closed door negotiations in the middle of the night, the governor and legislative Democrats came to an agreement that they would spend bond for $830 million dollars – a number significantly higher than either original proposal. With interest and fees factored in, the total bill would come to $1.7 billion to be paid off over nearly 30 years. There were 92,300 unemployed Iowans.

  • Not a single Republican voted for it.

  • Culver was quoted in The Des Moines Register as saying, “I’d be a lot more concerned about next year if we didn’t do this huge stimulus package.”

  • Governor Culver said his proposal would create 30,000 “shovel ready” positions, yet when respected independent economists took a look at his ideas, they found that the governor had substantially inflated and embellished his claims. Instead, these experts said the governor’s plans would likely yield closer to 4,000 temporary positions. In some cases, the governor double and triple counted particular jobs.

  • In early January of 2010, Governor Culver told reporters that he hoped I-JOBS would create, “hopefully hundreds if not thousands of jobs” and that “I don’t think people should expect huge job numbers.” There were 110,700 unemployed Iowans.

  • By March, House and Senate Democrats, at the urging of Governor Culver, passed a significant expansion authorizing another $150 million dollars in spending.  There were 114,200 unemployed Iowans.

  • Earlier this month, the Iowa Democratic Party issued a statement back-tracking on Culver’s revised predictions from January of 2010 and made it clear that I-JOBS “will create 30,000 jobs and secure Iowa’s economic future.”

  • WHO-TV in Des Moines produced a series of news segments highlighting the constantly evolving job creation numbers and the lack of transparency and evidence to support them.

  • A day later, Governor Culver issued a statement saying 7,000 to 9,000 Iowans worked on I-JOBS projects in June and that 23,000 would work on projects throughout the whole duration of the temporary work program.

  • Earlier this week, just days after his latest statement, Governor Culver offered yet another round of numbers and issued a 109 page report suggesting that 7,029 Iowans worked on I-JOBS projects in June. Culver’s formula showed that approximately 36,764 temporary positions could be created in total.

  • Minutes later, highly respected Iowa State University economist Dave Swenson was quoted by The Des Moines Register as saying Culver’s latest attempt to spin his failed program “is probably a significant overstatement of the jobs.”

  • Though most of these dollars are going towards construction projects, according to Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa has the lowest level of construction workers in months. 

  • Additionally, according to, the website started by the Obama Administration to track job creation as part of their $787 billion dollar ‘stimulus’ known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Iowa received $1.8 billion dollars. The Obama administration claims 8,827.59 have been created.

  • Even though the ARRA dollars is over double the amount of actual spendable money that is part of I-JOBS, Culver is claiming job creation numbers that could be four times as much.

  • Therefore, are we to believe Culver, the Obama administration or are they both likely inaccurate?

  • The Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich wrote in a blog post, “Culver, however, has framed the program all along as an engine for job creation. This report suggests he’s boxed himself into a pretty complicated discussion with voters about how jobs are estimated. The last thing Culver needs on the campaign trail right now is more complications.

  • Today’s joblessness remains unacceptably high at 113,600 unemployed Iowans with many others who are underemployed or have stopped looking completely.

  • Nearly 30,000 Iowans have lost their jobs since Culver announced his plan and nearly 20,000 since it was signed into law. Simply put, it has failed to produce the jobs that were promised.

Senate Republicans offered real plans to stimulate long-term private sector job creation in Iowa instead of spending $1.7 billion to create temporary make work. Iowans have endured Culver’s legacy of failed leadership, enormous generational debt and unacceptably high unemployment and they are looking for new leadership that provides straightforward answers instead of constant political spin.

Iowans are asking ‘where are the long-term private sector jobs?’ and unfortunately Governor Culver still has no answer. Senate Republicans will continue to fight to bring long-term jobs to Iowa because our families and our children and grandchildren’s futures depend on it.

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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