The governor’s call for a one-hundred-million dollar "Iowa Power Fund" is meeting resistance from some of his fellow Democrats. Governor Chet Culver wants to use the money to invest in the renewable energy industry, but doesn’t want any strings attached.
Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says it’s the legislature’s job to set down some ground rules. "I personally think the legislature should provide a little more direction on how this money is spent," Hogg says. "The thing that I think would be a disappointment is if we create this fund and the we’ve got all these things that the legislature knows is important…and yet they don’t get funded."
For example, Hogg would like to stipulate that the money cannot be used to build "traditional" ethanol plants that process just corn into ethanol, but instead be reserved for the "next generation" of plants that convert the entire corn stalk — or other products — into ethanol. Hogg says legislators place all sorts of restrictions on state grants, and this should be no different.
"To say we want these categories or projects to be eligible for this amount of money and I think it’s important that we do that in the next two weeks," Hogg says. Some Republican senators are insisting that the initial batch of 25-million dollars in the Power Fund go to research and development, and Hogg isn’t opposed to that.
Hogg says the money should go into helping ensure that the research and development in the renewable fuels industry happens in Iowa. Other Republicans oppose the plan altogether, saying government never does a good job in picking winners and losers when it hands out money to businesses. Hogg made his comments on "The Exchange," a talk-show broadcast on Iowa Public Radio.