By Senator Paul McKinley, Iowa Senate Republican Leader
This week marked the one year anniversary of the passage of Governor Culver’s $1.7 billion dollar temporary work program known as I-JOBS. Governor Culver marked this occasion by signing an $150 million dollar expensive expansion of the program.
Now that the program has been in place for a year and has now been dramatically expanded, what is the progress report?
Governor Culver promised 30,000 new jobs as a result of I-JOBS. He said it would be the revitalization and revival of our economy. A year later, instead of 30,000 new jobs for Iowans, more than 30,000 Iowans have actually lost their jobs.
Iowa’s unemployment remains unacceptably high at 6.8 percent. In many counties throughout Iowa, the unemployment far exceeds not only the Iowa average but also the national average of 9.7 percent.
In the past year, Iowa lost 222 factories and we remain 49th in the nation in friendliness to job creators according to US News & World Report and 41st according to the very reputable Small Business Survival Index. Two-thirds of Iowa’s counties lost population in 2009 because of a lack of jobs.
At the time of I-JOBS passage, 71 percent of Iowans voiced their opposition to it according to a poll conducted for The Des Moines Register. Today’s high school seniors will be nearly 50 years old before the decades of debt will be paid off.
We can and must do better.
Not a single Republican in the Senate or House voted for I-JOBS or its expansion because we know Iowans do not want decades of debt – they want good sustainable private sector jobs.
This is why Senate Republicans have offered a series of detailed proposals aimed at jumpstarting Iowa’s economy and providing a jolt of adrenaline to the job creators we need to move our state forward. Unfortunately not a single one of our smart solutions has been enacted.
Like the issues of property tax relief and responsible budgeting, the issue of jobs is one that draws a bright line of distinction between the two parties.
As was the case with President Obama and congressional Democrats, Governor Culver and his legislative Democrats have pursued a strategy of creating large pots of money and asking government bureaucrats to pick winners and losers by micromanaging from Washington or Des Moines.
Instead, we must be a state that focuses like a laser on jobs and economic growth. We know that small businesses create two out of every three new jobs and that is why we must make it easier for small businesses, entrepreneurs and employers to invest once again in our workforce. We must offer the current and future job creators of Iowa two important qualities: stability and commitment.
Job creators need stable fiscal policies so they know what to expect if they come to Iowa or expand here. The wayward budgeting of the last three years has produced higher job-killing property taxes and other tax and fee increases. We must ensure stable fiscal policies that do not rock the boat.
With stability comes commitment. We must commit to keeping our state a Right-to-Work state and avoid many of the anti-jobs bills that have been discussed during the last few years. Whether it be the repeal of federal deductibility or pursuing the dangerous anti-jobs bills backed by well financed labor bosses, even discussing these bills has sent the wrong message. We should not punish the very people who we need to help grow our state.
Iowa needs stability and commitment.
A year later, Governor Culver’s I-JOBS has not worked as promised. When we should be removing barriers to job creation and making it easier for entrepreneurs and employers to thrive, legislative Democrats have done the opposite by raising property taxes and increasing fees and fines and discussing and enacting harmful anti-jobs legislation.
We can experience a 99 county resurgence. Iowa is filled with promise but we must begin to change direction and reignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector. It’s time to stop picking winners and losers and instead empower all who wish to be prosperous. Let us again put our faith in the people to move Iowa forward instead of allowing government to hold us back.