An unusal alliance is pushing legislators to re-establish the “Iowa Values” economic development fund that paid out huge state grants to businesses. The fund was nullified by a Supreme Court ruling this summer. Joe Shannahan, a spokesman for the “Rebuild Iowa Coalition,” says the group wants legislators to make the Iowa Values Fund a permanent part of the state’s economic development “The Rebuild Iowa Coalition is really a unique partnership that represents two-thousand Iowa contractors and more than 25-thousand Iowa construction workers,” he says. “It’s labor and management, coming together for a common cause.” The group cites the Iowa Values Fund’s one-year record of providing grants to three dozen projects that created 11-thousand jobs. Shannahan says the coalition is urging legislators and the governor to use gambling taxes for the program, as gambling taxes are currently set aside for construction projects and many of the companies that get state grants need to construct a new building or expand their current facility. The coalition recommends that legislators set aside up to 50 million dollars in the coming year for state grants that would wind up as capital investments in growing companies. One coalition official says failing to re-establish the Values Fund would “shortchange Iowa’s future.” The Master Builders of Iowa, the Iowa, the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters, Masonry Institute of Iowa, Mechanical Contractors Association of Iowa, and the Iowa Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association are partners in the Rebuild Iowa Coalition. The group successfully pressed lawmakers to reserve gambling taxes for public construction projects, and the state’s new Judicial Building was bankrolled by gambling revenue, for example.
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