Former governor and current U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, current Governor Chet Culver, and Congressman Leonard Boswell, all Democrats, joined together today to say Iowa is heading toward an economic recovery. Vilsack touted the impact of federal recovery dollars on Iowa.
Vilsack says in Iowa “it’s fairly clear” 31,000 jobs were retained or created by the economic recovery act. “That’s roughly two-point-three percent of Iowa’s workforce. In other words, our unemployment rate, which is relatively low, relative to other states, would be two-point-three-percent higher but for the recovery act,” Vilsack said.
Vilsack says his agency is heavily involved in the economic effort in the state. Vilsack says there are at least 105 projects in the U.S.D.A. in Iowa that he says will create jobs over the course of the next several months. He says expansion of broadband access, business and industry loan programs and 68 community and facility grants are all part of the ag department’s effort to stimulate the economy in Iowa.
Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, touted a list of 10 things he says show the Iowa financial condition is improving, including an item that says Iowa’s unemployment is the 10th lowest in the nation. Culver was asked about an add by former governor and Republican candidate Terry Branstad that says Iowa’s unemployment is at a 24-year high. Culver says Branstad was governor during that time of high unemployment 24 years ago.
“He has the all-time record for the highest unemployment rate in our state’s history, 8.5%, so I hope Iowans know that fact, and today it is 6.9,” Culver says. Culver says there were 22 counties that had unemployment rates of 10% or higher in 1983 when Branstad was governor, and today there are just two.
Culver says he feels good about where the state’s economy is as he prepares his run for a second term. “So I am happy to contrast my record against former governor Brantad’s on any issue related to the economy and unemployment,” Culver said. While Culver and Congressman Boswell are both running for re-election, Vilsack said he is not in Iowa to campaign for anyone.
But the former governor did give his assessment of Culver’s chances. “He’s in better shape than I was at this point in time in my re-lection effort, I would have been happy to have been in the place that he is in June of 2002,” Vilsack says, “I’m very confident that Governor Culver is going to be re-elected. I think he has a great story to tell. He has governed during very, very difficult times. Only somebody who has been in that position can fully understand how difficult it has been.”
Vilsack’s comments ironically would also indicate that Branstad has an understanding of the economic problems facing the state, as Branstad was governor during the farm crisis of the 1980s.
Listen to the entire news conference here: Vilsack/Culver 33:00 MP3