A late-night vote in the Iowa House has thrown a monkey-wrench in plans to end the 2004 Legislative session today. The House voted in favor of having the state borrow up to 60 million dollars for state economic development programs. Representative Scott Raecker, a republican from Urbandale, pushed for putting more money in the “Vision Iowa” and “Community Attractions and Tourism” grant programs. Raecker says the state’s handed out just over two-hundred million dollars in grants, leveraging one-and-a-half billion dollars in construction projects that Raecker says are improving the quality of life in Iowa. But Senate republican leaders say they’re not interested in the borrowing scheme.Senate President Jeff Lamberti (lam-BER’-tee), a republican from Ankeny, says “it’s just ridiculous” because the House plan would have Iowa taxpayers forking out 150-million dollars in principle and interest payments over 15 years — to get 60 million dollars today. Lamberti says “that’s not going to happen.” Senators have quit work for the week, and plan to meet again Monday. Lamberti says senators decided not to operate under some artificial adjournment deadline that would keep them from doing good work, so they’re going to take a step back, review things, and return to work Monday. Some critics say the 60-million dollars in economic development grant money that the House approved last night is secretly earmarked for a rain forest park developers hope to build in Coralville. Raecker says that’s not the case. Raecker says when the “Vision Iowa” program was created four years ago, folks made the same charge, and the rain forest project still hasn’t gotten state grant money. House members are debating a bill at this hour, but intend to quit once it passes and return to Des Moines next week.
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