This week Governor Terry Branstad is holding ribbon-cutting ceremonies at two state prisons, but he’s criticizing the way the projects were financed.
The Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville has undergone a $68 million renovation and expansion. The state has spent $132 million on the brand Iowa State Penitentiary — the new , maximum-security prison for men in Fort Madison. Both projects were “I-JOBS” projects launched by Branstad’s predecessor, Chet Culver, who authorized borrowing for a series of infrastructure projects around the state.
“I didn’t like the idea of funding it with debt,” Branstad says. “I believe it would be beneficial and we are, going forward, doing things on a pay-as-you-go basis.”
Branstad authorized state borrowing for new prisons in Clarinda, Newton and Fort Dodge in the 1990s, but Branstad made state borrowing for the new Fort Madison prison a key issue during his 2010 race against Culver.
“I think most Iowans think debt, this kind of debt, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Branstad says.
Despite his objections over how the prison expansion project was financed, Branstad attended an 11 o’clock ribbon cutting today at the women’s prison in Mitchellville. Branstad is due in Fort Madison at 10 o’clock Wednesday for the “grand opening” of the new Iowa State Penitentiary.