The most significant bill to be debated in the Iowa Legislature this year would create an 810-million dollar economic development fund, partially financed by collecting state sales taxes on Internet purchases. The bill passed the Iowa House late last night on a 79 to 19 vote, but it appears the Senate will adjourn today without debating it. Many Republicans oppose the bill because they don’t want to see the state go that far in debt. Republican Representative Dan Boddicker of Tipton says it’s a “grandiose plan” full of wishfull thinking. Boddicker says the state’s tried things like this before, and he says “the definition of insanity is when you think that by doing more of what you’re already doing, you’ll get a different result.” Republican Representative George Eichhorn of Stratford says the so-called “Iowa Values Fund” is “centralized planning.” Eichhorn says it’s a big government program that will land the state deep in debt for 20 years. Representative Wayne Ford, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the state’s blighted areas need some help. Ford says “the reality is, if the state doesn’t pay now, it’ll pay later.” Representative Phil Wise, a Democrat from Keokuk, says the state needs to take a risk. Wise says the status quo is not acceptable, because “more of the same” will not work. Lawmakers from both political parties had a hand in the details, but the “Iowa Values Fund” was the brainchild of Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie, sat in the House balcony last night as the bill was passed. Shortly afterwards, at about 10:15, Governor Vilsack held a news conference to praise House members for their action. Vilsack says he’ll call lawmakers back to Des Moines “sooner rather than later” in a special session to finish action on the economic development fund and tax reform.
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