Early last month after reading the I-JOBS report from Iowa Governor Chet Culver’s office I asked where are the jobs from I-JOBS? Governor Culver claimed that the program had created and retained 7502 direct jobs (jobs on the project site) out of 2091 projects that had been started.
To find out where the I-JOBS jobs were located, I made an open records request with the Governor’s office late on October 7th which they then received October 8th asking for them to provide the number of jobs created/retained by project. Iowa Code 22.8 specifies that most requests are routine and should be handled immediately. A reasonable delay shall not exceed 20 calendar days and ordinarily shouldn’t exceed 10 business days. After taking the full amount of time allowed by law (and then some) I finally received the records on Friday.
The first thing I saw was the Department of Agriculture department job count by project. Look at the first page of their project list below, notice what I’ve highlighted:
Notice how small some of the awards are (you’ll probably have to look at it in full screen mode)? Also notice that many of the sub-awards were made to the same person, but yet were counted as separate jobs? Perhaps we should all agree on what the definition of a job is. Do we mean a job as in “a short-term project” so one person could have multiple jobs? If that is the case, fine but be up front about it. When the average person hears “job” they think a sustainable income which is what the Culver administration has been touting.
Now look at the document below listing projects that have gone through the Department of Natural Resources.
If you were to look at the full screen version you’d see the highlighted text reads:
These are individual job counts for the month of July, the amount of time each individual worked on an IJOBS project is variable.
They reported 87 jobs, but a person who worked a day could have been counted as a job… perhaps even just a few hours. Are these the types of jobs we were promised? To include numbers such as these in the report is disingenuous. Again perhaps Governor Culver should define what he means by job.
When I wrote about this last I questioned how many jobs were being “created or retained” by the Iowa Department of Transportation, in particular the local roads fund. I highlighted the following projects:
- Granger – $5,649.16 – money given for road funding, completion time was supposed to be 12/09. To date nothing (at least recorded) has been spent.
- Pleasant Hill – $67,450 has been awarded, zero has been spent even though their project’s completed date was supposed to be 12/09. Also being a resident of Pleasant Hill I can attest that this season there was very little road work done, but I’m sure that $67,450 may not get you very much.
- Mitchellville – two projects – $1,117,941.96 – for road funding and to “revitalize Iowa’s sound economy” none of the money has been reported spent.
- Bondurant – $28,594.65 for road funding, and they have spent some money on rock, sand, a snow fence, and crack sealing. Not sure how many jobs that “created or retained” though.
- Carlisle – $33,882.29 for road funding
- Chester – $810.6 for road funding (I’m sure that went far), but was better than Clayton who was awarded $383.72. I’m sure they are thankful for the debt their residents now have for the $383.72 they have received.
- Dallas Center – $15,455.26
Then I saw their job projection for the local roads fund that helped them get to their 7502 number. See the document below.
They base their 840 jobs from the local road fund creating their estimate from a figure derived from their 14 largest jobs. That doesn’t take into account all of the little projects like the ones listed above that were basically material purchases. You can’t estimate an approximate number of jobs with a sample size of 14 projects. That’s what you call crap statistics. That doesn’t work in the real world, but it sure works well when you’re trying to demonstrate that going into debt was a good idea.
Then they provided information from the Department of Cultural Affairs:
They list the number of jobs to be 695 with 19 being direct jobs and 676 being contractors and sub-contractors. If you were to look at the I-JOBS project summary budget sheet below you’ll notice something peculiar.
There hasn’t been any award expenditures through the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs… why do they count jobs from this project then? This isn’t the only place this is done however some examples:
- Avoca Betterment Associaton’s 133 N. Elm St. Project (IJH-12) is listed at having 5 jobs.
- The City of Council Bluff’s Pine Ridge Apartments project (IJH-21) lists 15 jobs.
- The City of Dubuque’s Historic Washington RowHouses Project (IJH-26) lists 18 jobs
- Siouxland Habitat for Humanity’s Siouxland Neighborhood Revitalization Commitment 2010 project (IJH-16) – 30 jobs
With all of those – no I-JOBS money disbursed. Then onto the Iowa Finance Authority’s Local Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program… these are some projects that had jobs counted, but no I-JOBS money had been disbursed:
- Two projects for the City of Avoca totaling 33 jobs (West Ditch and the RR Row Storm Sewer Replacement).
- The City of Cedar Falls’ public works complex – 32 jobs
The Department of Corrections projects don’t list any I-JOBS disbursements either, and yet they account for 191 jobs. Interesting. Then in the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s list of projects in July we see:
- The Dunkerton Public Library project accounts for 24 jobs.
- The Walcott Recreational Trail & Nature park has 22 jobs.
- The Downtown Kalona revitalization lists 35 jobs.
Yet no I-JOBS money disbursed. I know that in some of these projects there are local funds being utilized, but when there is no I-JOBS money disbursed should the Governor take credit?
Some further questions…
- How is it that you can count 229 jobs created/sustained at the Iowa State Fair when I-JOBS came on at the tail end?
- With the University of Iowa’s flood recovery project, would FEMA money have been received anyway?
- Also how does I-JOBS leverage other state funds?
Questions to be answered, but with what I found with just a cursory glance could you imagine what a professional audit would find?
Based on what I’ve seen I find it very difficult to believe the I-JOBS number given by the Governor. While there isn’t enough time before tomorrow to figure out what the actual number is; it is certain that it isn’t anywhere close to the 7502 number the Governor’s office gave – that is unless you believe a job can be funded with $300 and it’s ok to count a job on just the promise of funding. The taxpayers deserve the truth about how many jobs I-JOBS is really creating or supporting instead of getting floated larger numbers for political cover that the data simply doesn’t support.