Biggest news here — No school at Linn Mar.
Second place goes to Gov. Chet Culver, of course, who announced an eye-popping $700 million infrastructure-bonding-job creation-Republican-aggravating plan during his condition of the state address Tuesday. Before he got “bold,” he underwhelmed Eastern Iowans with a $43 million flood recovery package. Drop, meet bucket.
The Gazette, not surprisingly, focuses significant ink on the flood package, which would include $20 million in property tax replacement for local govs and $10 million for a new more flexible version of the ever-popular/hideously frustrating Jumpstart relief program. There’s also millions for non-profits and $2 million to keep the Rebuild Iowa office in business. The money comes from the $155 million Economic Emergency Fund, aka the rainy day fund. Culver said in his speech that it certainly rained. Ha.
Bipartisan reaction was similar. House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said he hoped Culver’s opening rainy day flood scoop would be $75 million. Rep. Tyler Oelson, D-Cedar Rapids, was looking for $140 million, or more than three times what the Big Lug proposed. When is this administration going to stop disappointing us?
The Des Moines Register barely mentions flood relief and focuses on Culver’s bondathon for jobs. The $700 million in bonds for infrastructure –roads, bridges, power grid, telecommunications, flood mitigation, towers to heaven and massive marble statues of great governors — would be paid back with gambling revenues at a $56 million per year clip. That’s some serious debt, folks.
Democrats and some construction groups are pleased. They say the money will help create thousands of jobs and make up ground on a list of badly needed projects.
Republicansare leery with a side boondoggle. And economists are divided on whether this is a good idea. In the Register main story, Creighton’s Ernie Gos argues that bonds sold in this credit climate will carry high interest rates.
And what of the gas tax, the quaint idea of asking drivers, not gamblers, to pay for road work. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says deep down in the Register story that the tax is “still an open question.”
Republicans also note, correctly, that Culver gave few details on how he’ll balance the 2010 state budget, which faces a massive shortfall. He mentioned hopes for stimulus funds from the feds, and made a veiled reference to leasing state property, aka the lottery, but otherwise it was hopes and platitudes.
Krusty Konservative leads the charge against Culver’s plans on the conservative blogscape, arguing that Democrats and the media are about to sell us a bonding snow job. I couldn’t find much of anything among liberal bloggers. If you find something, send along a link.
Speaking of snow jobs, I’ve got a snowblower in the garage waiting for action.