Governor Chet Culver is pushing to have the state borrow $750 million to finance "thousands" of infrastructure projects he says will bring Iowa into the 21st century — and create jobs.
"It really bothers me that we have 70,000 families that are collecting unemployment," Culver says. "Those families are counting on all of us to provide solutions, to provide them some hope, to help them get a job."
Culver has even come up with a name for his proposal — I-Jobs — and a logo that incorporates the outline of the state in that name. "We have a choice. We can take control of our own destiny. We can come out of this recession better and stronger and more competitive," Culver says. "Iowa can literally work our way out of this recession."
Culver’s fellow Democrats in the legislature, however, have said they’re not interested in the governor’s idea of borrowing money to pay for road and bridge projects. Democrats have also started advancing two of the ideas Culver outlined in his package — borrowing money for already-started projects, like an upgrade of the Veterans Home in Marshalltown — and borrowing money for flood repairs and preparation for floods of the future. The governor says if those separate ideas wind up on his desk, he’ll veto the bills and continue to urge legislators to pass his "comprehensive" package that covers all the items on his wish list.
Culver invited community college officials, union leaders as well as city and county officials from around the state to his office this morning to witness his news conference outlining the $750 million plan. Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan was given a chance to speak just before Culver. "This is not a time for us to go and hide in the corner. This is a time that we, as a state, have an opportunity to make a difference not only today with the floods and the damage that we suffered last year, but also for the opportunities of the future," Hanafan says. "At a time when some people are going to sit back and not do things, we could be aggressive and really build this state into something that we can be very proud of."
Culver is calling for spending on the following:
- $250 million for transportation infrastructure;
- $175 million for already scheduled projects (similiar to bill passed last night in Iowa Senate);
- $150 million for flood recovery and disaster preparation projects (similar to proposal from bill which cleared House Rebuild Iowa Committee last night);
- $100 million for water quality and water improvement projects;
- $75 million for local infrastructure, broadband and alternative energy infrastructure.
Culver’s deputy chief of staff indicated details of Culver’s plan will be posted on the governor’s website — http://www.governor.iowa.gov .