Despite repeated criticism of the state incentive package for a southeast Iowa fertilizer plant, Democrats in the Iowa Senate today embraced Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s budget outline for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said the budget plan Democrats drafted matches “basically to the letter” what Branstad requested.
“We really look at economic development in a comprehensive way that moves the State of Iowa forward,” Dotzler said. “We agree with the governor’s effort.”
All 24 Republicans in the senate voted against the bill. Some said the bill should have outlined spending plans for the next two years rather than just one year. Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, had a philosophical objection.
“Why do we need incentives for businesses to move to Iowa?” Chelgren asked.
Dotzler replied: “I wish we didn’t have to do that, but that’s the world we live in. We are in competition with other states and I, basically, don’t have a problem with incentives as long as they’re used in a (judicious) manner.”
Chelgren favors lowering taxes and reducing regulations rather than handing out incentives.
“I think if we had a climate that was more conducive to business in general, we wouldn’t have to offer such extravagant incentives,” Chelgren said.
The bill the cleared the Senate on a 26-24 vote Wednesday afternoon also calls for reopening state Workforce Development offices in Ames, Atlantic, Denison, Newton and Clinton — to provide job counseling services to unemployed Iowans. In 2011, Governor Branstad shut down 36 regional Workforce Development offices.