Iowa legislators still haven’t decided how to bankroll the Iowa Values economic development fund. The Iowa House on Wednesday approved a bill re-establishing the fund which hands out huge state grants to new and expanding businesses, and last (Thursday) night the House approved a separate bill that sets aside 50-million dollars in each of the next 10 years for the Iowa Values Fund. Representative Clarence Hoffman, a Republican from Charter Oak, says a big, long-term commitment is essential to keep up with surrounding states. Kansas is enacting a $530 million dollar, 10-year state grant program. Wisconsin’s setting aside $317 million per year and Illinois is prepared to hand out nearly $2 billion in economic development incentives. Representative Steve Lukan, a Republican from New Vienna, says it’s not easy, but essential to extend the commitment for 10 years. “I remember why I ran for office ’cause I thought we need to do something to create jobs in Iowa,” Lukan says. But some fiscal conservatives and liberals say it’s bad policy to commit that much in state resources in future years. Representative Jamie Van Fossen, a Republican from Davenport, is opposed to the move. “If we would have put it into a $50 million dollar a year capital gains tax cut, I think you grow entrepreneurism and jobs much faster that way,” Van Fossen says. Representative Ed Fallon, a Democrat from Des Moines, called the long-term commitment “fiscally irresponsible.” Fallon says it will take a huge chunk of future state resources, robbing from other priorities like education and water quality. The Iowa Senate must now debate the issue. As you may recall, an Iowa Supreme Court ruling this past summer put the Iowa Values Fund out of business.
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