I was unable to attend his address yesterday due to a work obligation, but reading through the transcript I wanted to offer a few thoughts.
First, I’m glad I didn’t listen live because I think we can have bipartisan agreement that public speaking is not one of Iowa Governor Chet Culver’s strengths. I remember attending a Governor’s Volunteer Award ceremony and was relieved to learn that it would be the First Lady, Mari Culver, who was going to speak. But I digress.
Governor Culver after reporting the resiliency of Iowan (which we need to be dealing with the current administration) launched into a defense of his record:
For example, to address both of our statewide challenges, the double challenges related to the economy and natural disasters. You passed, and I signed, I-JOBS, our statewide infrastructure and job creation initiative.
A "yes" vote on I-JOBS was a "yes" vote for flood victims. A "yes" vote on "I-JOBS was a vote to rebuild our economy. A "yes" on I-JOBS was a vote for businesses and communities as they struggle across the state to get back on their feet.
So, I want to be very clear: I’m proud of the fact we’ve made the difficult decisions necessary to put our state on the road to recovery.
I’m proud of the fact that on my watch we’ve earned the highest possible bond rating for good fiscal management. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve balanced the budget three years in a row, without raising taxes on hardworking Iowans.
So he is proud that we, as a state now have an $11.6 Billion debt. That we had to cut the budget only after spending was bloated. And I think he is putting too much stock on the bond rating that has been achieved. Good fiscal management. What a joke! When has he ever shown good fiscal management in his career? And balancing the budget was an exercise in smoke and mirrors.
Then in defending the budget he goes on to say:
Today, the budget is balanced. And it has been balanced every single day that I’ve had the privilege to be Governor of this state. Additionally, because of our cost savings initiatives, the budget this morning is smaller than it was on the day I took office.
And this didn’t happen, as you know, by accident. It happened because we made tough choices. We managed the budget responsibly and effectively.
He then goes into the budget which he says will be balanced. Sure. He says his top priority is jobs:
Job creation and job retention are incredibly important. So, I’m asking you to fully fund community college job training, and to adequately fund the Department of Workforce Development during these challenging times. And, to create more ‘green collar jobs’ of the future, to fully fund the Iowa Power Fund.
Typical Democrat response, let’s spend money. How about cutting corporate taxes and making sure we can keep property taxes low (which will be hard to do if local property taxes are raised in order to hedge against state education cuts). Kill the Iowa Power Fund. It should have never been created to begin with.
Let the private sector create the jobs and get out of the way.
And with education…
Additionally, we must also continue to expand access to early childhood education. To date, we have helped more than 12,000 kids in 175 school districts get a quality preschool education. So, my budget request will include the last installment of our four-year, 60 million dollar commitment to preschool.
Here we are facing a budget crisis, and this is one thing that can be cut from education. We don’t need to fund preschool. We can leave preschool to churches. We have Head Start, or I don’t know leave it up to families to do. This is an unnecessary increase in education funding, and wasn’t welcome in every school district.
I am asking you to pass legislation that requires school districts to spend down a portion of their cash reserves instead of shifting the burden to local property taxpayers.
That’s great if they have the cash reserves, but what if they don’t? Shouldn’t this be a local decision? I don’t want to see property taxes increased either.
And a call to raid the reserves again to restore spending:
I will be asking you to dedicate at least 100 million dollars from the reserves to restore some of the recent cuts. This will be a real short-term shot in the arm for some of our schools, especially in rural districts, which are already cash-strapped, with depleted reserves.
Perhaps if he approached the spending cuts in a common sense way and the Democrats didn’t bloat spending before rural school districts wouldn’t be in this boat.
He defends I-Jobs which really can’t be defended. The money has been so spread out that it will make little long-term economic impact; employing the same people who would ordinarily be doing those projects. So at best, he could say he saved some jobs, but I-Jobs certainly didn’t add any.
Culver’s Condition of the State address was an exercise is historical revision in order to defend a record of incompetence and then a plea for more of the same.