When in a hole, stop digging
Plans to build an electrification plant in Marshalltown were cancelled when the Iowa Utilities Board established a rate of return on investment significantly below expectations. This is a stunning loss for Iowa. It would have built up the state's overall power base load, enhanced economic growth and created 1000 jobs in the process. Iowa is increasingly being seen as an anti growth state by businesses exploring expansion. That is not a reputation we can afford.
Discussions on the gas tax increase finally hit empty with the Governor's announcement that he would veto legislation that would increase Iowa's fuel tax. Iowa is expected to receive $358 million for road projects from the federal package to bail out the states. Last year vehicle fees were increased, ultimately providing for $130 million more for roads. The Time-21 study called for an additional $200 million dollars to be spent on Iowa roads. Near term needs are met. Long term the problem is not lack of resources. The state must prioritize to be more responsible and efficient. The state budget has increased by nearly one billion dollars in the past two years. The Governor and the legislature should reflect the view of Iowans and prioritize resources for roads. It is unacceptable to increase taxes with such a bloated budget, especially a time of significant economic uncertainty.
The annual appropriation bond proposal passed the full Senate this week on a party line vote. You may recall this as the bond described in the last newsletter. It requires future Iowans to repay $316 million over 23 years so this Governor and this legislature can spend $175 million today. It moves on to the House and a murky future. The majority party in the Senate supports this idea. The Governor, however, wants the bond size to explode to $750 million. He wants to spend even more. House leaders are not enamored either. Future uncertain. I voted no. As humorist and social commentator Will Rogers said, "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging." Folks, the state of Iowa is in a budget hole and needs to stop digging. We can not borrow and spend our way out of this problem. Requiring Iowans to pay for 23 years so we won't be inconvenienced today is not the answer. This spend it now, spend it easy, spend it fast attitude is just mortgaging our children's future. Proper prioritization and budgeting is the prescription.
The forum on March 21st will be at the Carroll Fire Station. I hope you can join us for legislative conversation and coffee.