Culver’s Bonds Aren’t Bottomless

Gov. Chet Culver has been out selling his plan to float $700 million worth of bonds to pay for infrastructure projects. And a big part of that sales pitch has involved traveling the state to dangle the possibility of big bucks for hometown projects in front of wide-eyed local leaders.

He’s been to Council Bluffs and the Quad-Cities, CR and elsewhere. Today, he dropped by a Board of Regents planning meeting in Ankeny to suggest that money from his fund could help replace flood-damaged Hancher Auditorium.

There’s nothing wrong with the governor selling his plan. It is the centerpiece of his legislative agenda, after all.

But we should all remember that $700 million can’t buy everything.

And that’s especially true when $700 million is really $543,988, 380. Culver makes no secret in budget documents  that a $156 million share of his Rebuild Iowa Fund will already be spoken for to pay for a long list of state projects left over from the old infrastructure fund, which was paid for by tobacco legal settlement dollars.

That list includes items such as $47.5 million for expansion of the women’s correctional institution at Mitchellville, $8 million for the agricultural exhibition center at the Iowa State Fair, $15 million for major maintenance to state facilities, $6.9 million for Capitol restoration, $20.5 million for the Veteran’s Home, $8.6 million for lake dredging, etc.

All worthy projects. But again, it shows how fast the $700 million can disappear.  More than 20 percent of the fund is taken before the ink dries on Culver’s signature. And Iowans need to keep that in mind when the governor comes to a town near you and dangles shiny dollars.

Here’s the whole list of what gets funded off the top:

Total Resources Available 700,000,000
Department of Education
Community Colleges Infrastructure 2,000,000
Department of Transportation
Commercial Aviation Infrastructure 1,500,000
Public Transit Fund Deposit 2,200,000
Department of Corrections – Capitals
CBC #1 Waterloo Residential Expansion 6,000,000
CBC #3 Sioux City Residential Expansion 5,300,000
CBC #8 Ottumwa Residential Expansion 4,100,000
CBC Davenport Facility 2,100,000
Iowa Correctional Institution for Women Expansion 47,500,000
Mt. Pleasant/Rockwell City Kitchen Remodeling 12,500,000
State Fair – Capitals
Agriculture Exhibition Center 8,000,000
Department of Administrative Services – Capitals
Major Maintenance 15,000,000
Terrace Hill Maintenance 769,543
DHS-CCUSO Renovation 829,000
Capitol Complex Electrical Distribution 850,000
Capitol Interior and Exterior Restoration 6,900,000
Central Energy Plant Addition/Improvement 623,000
Hoover Bldg HVAC Improvements 1,500,000
Complex Utility Tunnel System 1,000,000
Hoover Building Security/Fire Walls Protection 165,000
Mercy Capital Building Purchase 3,900,000
Department of Natural Resources – Capitals
Volga River Rec. Area Infrastructure Impr 750,000
Carter Lake Improvements 500,000
Lake Restoration and Dredging 8,600,000
Board of Regents – Capitals
Iowa Public Radio 2,000,000
Veterans Affairs – Capitals
Iowa Veterans Home Master Plan 20,555,329
Department for the Blind – Capitals
Dormitory Remodeling 869,748
Total Appropriations 156,011,620
Remaing amount available for distribution 543,988,380


1 Comment

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One response to “Culver’s Bonds Aren’t Bottomless

  1. Wade Wagner

    Hello Todd.
    I enjoy your columns. Refreshing and noble thoughts for the most part. Do you know they are drudging up a bill again to allow dove hunting in Iowa? Check with your friends in Des Moines. I think Sen Dick Deardon of the Natural Resources Committee is the sponsor. I am sure it will provide you some fodder for at least three columns. Follow the money on this one as you know. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance which is a lapdog (lobbyist) for two shotgun shell makers in OHIO wants to pass this thing really bad—it would mean $72 million in additional sales for Winchester and Olin in IOWA–the gun people. I can’t believe we are going through this again after Gov. V vetoed it. When I was on council in CR, I really hammered my lawmakers about it. After all, why do we want to blow away the symbols of peace? I had a pair living in my yard in SE CR this summer—-my son and I really enjoyed them—-my wife from China would just as soon eat them (That was a joke)–anyway, keep up the good work and thanks for the CR Gazette article on the lack of “passion” on the part of our elected officials in getting help for flood victims. I would have been like that guy in the movie “Network” screaming at the top of my lungs if I were still on council. Call or write if you would like “oodles” of information on this dove issue–I have lots of it. Thanks for your work and interest in our community.
    Wade Wagner
    Former Parks Commissioner (2002-2006)
    Former KGAN-TV Farm Director (1981-2001)
    mobile: 319-981-2525

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