Key state leaders are warning that, with Iowa’s Department of Economic Development underfunded for the last three years, a proposed “Iowa Values Fund” could be all that keeps economic development from coming to a standstill in the state. House speaker Christopher Rants says while wrestling with a recession the state lost sight of its support for recruiting and expanding businesses, and without a big investment now, Economic Development director Michael Blouin will have little to work with.He says people don’t realize how little there is left in “the toolbox of economic development” with budget cuts for three years, and he says the Iowa Values Fund is important if we’re to compete with other states. A special legislative session is set to begin on Thursday and Democratic governor Tom Vilsack already has hinted that he’ll veto republican lawmakers’ economic-development budget this weekend if they don’t produce a values fund or something like it this week. But Rants no longer is hoping they’ll achieve a presession compromise. Much as he’d like to have it “all tied up with a bow” it’s time to let the legislative process work. Rants says house and senate republicans still disagree on how to pay for a massive economic development fund that could cost 800-million dollars, and on how to cut income taxes. Senate leaders say that tax reform will have to happen before they’ll vote for an Iowa Values Fund.
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