After yesterday’s blow-up among republicans and democrats in the Iowa Senate over the “Iowa Values” economic development fund, Senate Democrats today (Wednesday) said letting the conflict continue is unacceptable. Senator Bill Dotzler , a democrat from Waterloo, says the parties have to find areas of common ground and re-establish that Iowa Values Fund. “If we do nothing, I believe it will be catastrophic to Iowa’s economic development efforts,” Dotzler says. “Without the Values Fund, you pretty much could shut down the Department of Economic Development.” Senator Jack Hatch, a democrat from Des Moines, says failing to revive the Values Fund is the “least desirable” option. “Certainly, that may happen and that’s what we’re afraid of if we fall to the debate of partisan politics and trying to dig up old issues that were divisive in the years’ past,” Hatch says. Senator Jeff Danielson, a democrat from Waterloo, says Iowa will fall behind other states if the impasse isn’t resolved. “We can’t wait and miss the next wave of new jobs. There are 40 other states (that) have active, Values-Fund-type programs and we all know economies compete,” Danielson says. “To do nothing would leave Iowa’s economy in the dust.” Senator Tom Rielly, a democrat from Oskaloosa, says he was frustrated by what he calls the “ultimatums” republican senators issued yesterday. “And that’s when I thought, ‘Oh, no. Maybe the honeymoon is now finally over,'” Rielly says. “I talked to thousands of people over this summer and the one common thing they said is ‘Please, get something done up there. Don’t play politics as usual.'” Republican senators say if they give democrat Governor Tom Vilsack what he wants — the Iowa Values Fund — then democrats have to give them something republicans want, like caps on the cash awards in medical malpractice cases. The state’s top economic development official says he believes legislators will come up with some compromise on the Iowa Values Fund issue. Iowa Department of Economic Development Director Michael Blouin believes the problem will get solved before the legislative session is over. He says the legislature will look at how to fund it, how much to put in the fund for how many years, what kind of tax incentives will be advantageous. Blouin says the structure of the plan isn’t his concern. He says, “I don’t really care about those details as much as I care about having a long term commitment…which becomes a statement to every business in Iowa and every business looking at Iowa, that Iowa as community of three-million people is serious about competing in a marketplace that’s incredibly competitive.” Blouin is considering running on the democratic ticket for governor in 2006, and some say that may keep republicans from agreeing to a deal on the Values Fund. Blouin says he can’t win either way. He says, “If I announce today that I was running, they wouldn’t fund the program. If I announced I’m not running, they wouldn’t believe me.” Blouin says “there’s no ground in here that makes any sense.” He says the only thing he can do is do the best possible job he can. Blouin says he has to work on the job he has now and not worry about what he might do in the future. He says he’s been around long enough to know you can’t script what the next week will bring, let alone the next year or next decade. Blouin made his comments at an economic development event in Grinnell.
You are here: / / Democrat Senators say Iowa Values Fund must get done