Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, is challenging Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad to offer a list of “I-JOBS” projects he’d cancel.
Branstad has been a critic of the program, questioning whether the hundreds of millions of dollars the state borrowed to finance infrastructure projects was a good investment. Branstad’s campaign posted a video on the web this week, suggesting the number of jobs created through the I-JOBS program was “likely none.”
Culver’s staff issued a report earlier today, suggesting more than 7000 Iowans were employed on I-JOBS projects in June.
“I challenge the Republicans, including Terry Branstad, to list the I-JOBS projects they don’t want us to fund,” Culver said this afternoon during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “Do those include the 25 flood-recovery projects in Linn County? Do they include the more than $300 million of flood-recovery that I-JOBS has invested in across the state?”
Branstad’s campaign manager issued a statement this morning, saying the “short-term” construction jobs created by those I-JOBS grants aren’t the kind of “long-term, sustainable” jobs the state needs. Culver said up to 23,000 more Iowans will get one of those “short-term” construction jobs in the next two years.
“Terry Branstad and his campaign have no idea what’s really happening at the ground level across this state and how hard people are working to come back from these floods and what a job really means,” Culver said. “Maybe it’s because he served on six corporate board and was making $250,000 a year as a high-paid executive at a private college.” Branstad left his job as president of Des Moines University last October to run for a fifth term as governor.
Branstad’s campaign manager said in his written statement that Iowans will still be paying the debt on the I-JOBS borrowing plan when it’s time to start renovations on some of the projects. Culver accused Branstad of being “out of touch.”
“He has no idea of the impact that the floods and tornadoes had in our state in 2008. He has no idea that $250 million of I-JOBS is being invested in Johnson and Linn Counties alone on flood-recovery projects,” Culver said. “And he doesn’t have the courage to go over to those communities and tell the people to their face that he opposes rebuilding their communities.”
Republicans in the legislature argued the state should have used a “pay as you go” approach to financing infrastructure projects. Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley issued a statement today ridiculing the I-JOBS projects as “temporary make-work.” McKinley said the I-JOBS program has done nothing to create long-term private sector jobs in Iowa.