Some Iowans are scratching their heads over the decision to give a 10-million dollar state loan to the nation’s fifth-largest financial institution. The board that hands out money from the state’s new economic development fund decided this week to make the forgivable loan to Wells Fargo for an expansion in the Des Moines area, but Betty Ahrens, co-executive director of the Iowa Citizens Action Network, says there are better ways to spend state taxdollars. Ahrens says the state should be spending its resources to enhance Iowans’ quality of life. She says it’s a far better strategy to spend money on schools and cleaning up the environment than on hand-outs for businesses. Ahrens says whenever states end up bidding against one another to attract businesses, it ends up being a race to the bottom. Ahrens says Iowa can’t afford such a high-stakes race in a time of budget constraints. Ahrens doesn’t call the Iowa Values award “corporate welfare” but she does find it ironic that the state’s making a loan to one of the country’s largest banks. Ahrens says it “doesn’t make sense” but she says the loan is more palatable than what she considers the “typical type” of corporate welfare — like tax breaks. Wells Fargo doesn’t have to repay the loan if it lives up to its promise to bring two-thousand new jobs to Iowa, and pay an average wage of 33-thousand-500 dollars to those workers.
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