A coalition of business and labor leaders is calling on the legislature to send any profits from new gambling licenses to the fund earmarked for economic development programs. The legislature is set to meet in a special session September 7th to restore the Iowa Values Fund and provide 100-million dollars for current grants. The group called the “Rebuild Iowa Coalition” wants the new gambling proceeds to be a permanent source of money for the Values Fund. Tom Gillespie is a spokesman for the group and also the president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council.He says there’s some self interest involved as he does represent the construction industry. But he says the construction industry provides some of the better-paying jobs that inject money into the state economy. Gillespie says the want to see the Iowa Values Fund remain viable, but not at the expense of shifting money from general infrastructure improvements. He says there’s currently a 500-million dollar backlog of deferred maintenance needs for state buildings and up to a a two billion dollar replacement cost for those buildings. Gillespi and his group believe the State Racing and Gaming Commission will approve at least a couple of new gambling licenses — leading to more revenue. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says spending that extra gambling money on the Iowa Values Fund seems like a “reasonable thing to do.” But Rants says that won’t be decided until January.
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