The Iowa Economic Development Board met in emergency session late yesterday to regroup after an Iowa Supreme Court ruling put the state’s new economic development program in limbo. The Court ruled the Governor did not have the authority to item veto tax cuts out of the bill that created the new “Iowa Values Fund.” Then, the court nullified the whole bill. It means there’s now no legal foundation for the half a billion dollar fund. Millions have already been handed out, and Department of Economic Development director Michael Blouin says that money will stay in the hands of the 36 businesses that’ve won “Values Fund” grants.Blouin says he’s the “consummated paid professional optimist” and believes things will work out. Blouin contacted the three dozen companies that’ve won “Iowa Values Fund” awards to “assure them that help is still there.” Blouin and his staff will then contact the 376 companies that’ve expressed an interest in building or expanding in Iowa — with the help of an “Iowa Values Fund” grant. Blouin also met by phone yesterday with city and county economic development directors from around the state to assure them the wheels are in motion to resolve the problem and get the “Values Fund” up and running again. Blouin had expected the state board that’s handing out the “Values Fund” grants to award money to up to two dozen companies in the next two months. Blouin says he doesn’t want to “miss a beat” or “break stride” with any of the business prospects that’ve lined up for the program, but he conceded that the state has “temporarily lost” its “flagship” economic development initiative. Republican House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City says legislators are willing to act quickly in a special legislative session, if that’s what the legal experts believe should be done to ensure the “Values Fund” can continue. Rants says republican lawmakers are still committed to improving Iowa’s economy. Rants says he is concerned how businesses will react to the court’s ruling, especially since some of the businesses that’ve already received grants from the state program are in northwest Iowa, which he represents. Rants says republican lawmakers will demand tax cuts and business reforms along with reinstatement of the “Iowa Values Fund” if there is a special legislative session this summer. One member of the State Economic Development Board said yesterday having a special legislative session probably isn’t a smart idea in an election year, and wondered if there’s some other way to fix the situation.
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