Governor Tom Vilsack’s pushing legislators to find a long-term source of financing for the new state economic development fund. Legislators decided to use federal payments the state’s getting this year and next to bankroll the fund, but there’s nothing set up yet to keep it going beyond that. Vilsack says “things are happening in our state, which is why it’s so important to continue the momemtum” and permanently committ to the Iowa Values Fund. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lange was on hand for yesterday’s announcement of nearly 20-million dollars in state grants for 28 companies — most of that money came from the new Iowa Values Fund. Lange says the 28 projects are proof that the fund will create wealth, and show the “urgency” to come up with continued state taxpayer support of the Iowa Values Fund. Lange is chairman of the board which is handing out the grants from the Iowa Values Fund.Republicans in the legislature though say there’s no rush to find tax dollars to bankroll the new state economic development fund. The fund runs out of money next year, and Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says next year’s when the financing decision will be made. Iverson says if there are things that need to change, lawmakers can address that next year because the funding’s still in place for the remainder of this year. Iverson says there may be a need to make some changes in the “Iowa Values” program. Iverson says “if you just pump more money in,” the changes will never be made, and he says there may be a need to “tweak” the grant program.Iverson says the go-slow approach is the most “produnt” way to spend taxpayers’ money. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says yesterday’s announcement that 28 different companies plan to expand in Iowa with state grants answers those who doubted the “Iowa Values Fund” would stimulate the economy. Rants says before lamwakers start moving down the path of putting more money into the Iowa Values Fund, he and other republicans want to see regulatory and business reforms enacted. Governor Vilsack, a democrat, is pushing legislators to come up with the money this year. Vilsack last year vetoed the regulatory and business reforms Rants and others are seeking again this year. Rants says Vilsack is going to have to work with the republican-led legislature to strike a compromise. Rants says republicans are focused on lowering the cost of doing business in Iowa — for example — lowering the cost of workers’ compensation insurance.
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