The first attack ad of the 2006 governor’s race has emerged.
The two major party candidates for governor agree on several issues. Both have promised to raise teacher pay and the minimum wage, and both pledge to end the practice of paying state employes bonuses. But Chet Culver, the Democratic candidate for governor, offered an idea this week that his Republican opponent, Jim Nussle, has firmly rejected.
Culver proposes taking a portion of the money in the pension fund for Iowa teachers, law enforcement personnel and other government workers and investing it in start-up companies in Iowa. Nussle says it’s a bad idea. “I reject this risky scheme that my opponent came out with here this week that wants to…raid the pensions funds of people who are on IPERS in this state and use it for speculative ventures in new business,” Nussle says.
Nussle’s campaign has a new radio ad which criticizes Culver’s idea, and Nussle has begun ridiculing it in campaign speeches. Nussle told a crowd in Dubuque on Wednesday night that rule number one in a Nussle Administration will be to keep politicians’ hands off the pension funds.
Culver says Nussle doesn’t understand that part of the money in IPERS — the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System — is already invested in start-up companies, he’s just suggesting those start-ups should be in Iowa. “As governor, I will not put IPERS at risk. I am simply saying this redirects some of the $360 million that’s already being invested in projects out of Iowa into Iowa,” Culver says. “I want to grow our economy as governor.”
Culver accuses Nussle of trying to “twist” things around to draw attention away from Nussle’s backing of a plan to allow younger workers to invest part of their Social Security in the stock market and Nussle votes in favor of bills that Culver says let corporations raid employee pension funds.
Under current investment guidelines, about one-and-a-half percent of the IPERS fund is invested as venture capital seed money for start-up firms. Culver has proposed raising the venture capital investment in IPERS to three percent if the money’s invested in Iowa companies.