Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wayne Ford and Chet Culver: Are they on the same page?

One more reason to hate the Grow Iowa Values Fund, and we had to wait until Wayne Ford pointed it out. Who? Representative Wayne Ford, the Des Moines State Representative known for hard luck to hard work to achievement speechifying on the floor of the Iowa House. The story published in today's Des Moines Register.

Iowa's business incentives are reaching too few women- and minority-owned companies, says a state lawmaker, pointing to a report that shows only 10 women or minorities have received assistance through the state's lead economic development program over the past 2 1/2 years.

That proportion is about 3 percent of the 342 businesses that snagged Grow Iowa Values Fund money and other state dollars, the report shows.

Officials say small-business owners may be unable to meet the requirements of Iowa's premier economic development program, which provides about $50 million annually for business recruitment and other activities.

A smaller program that provides assistance to women and minority business leaders has failed to get new state dollars since 2003. The program has provided loans or grants to 34 businesses, according to a separate Iowa Department of Economic Development report.

Iowa Rep. Wayne Ford, D-Des Moines, said the funding lapse for the targeted small-business program will hurt Iowa in the long run. "If we want to attract more people to the state ... we have to make sure that blacks, Latinos and females have a piece of the American dream," said Ford, who runs a training program called Urban Dreams.

What’s worse, there is no explanation for the flat line funding of the targeted small business program, outside of the classic “state revenues were thin”.

The state budget was too thin when it would have helped families in rural Iowa with community enriching small businesses, but it was fat enough to build a Democratic administration an annual 50 million dollar slush fund to buy off large companies and their executive suite political donors.

I’m glad that Jim Nussle’s clear about his dislike for the Grow Iowa Values Fund. I can only hope that at some point in this campaign Chet Culver will put together a coherent statement on the Grow Iowa Values Fund, and every other issue that’s controversial. An excerpt from the published transcript of the June 16, 2006 Iowa Press featuring Chet Culver.

Glover: LAST WEEK ON THIS SHOW, YOUR REPUBLICAN OPPONENT, JIM NUSSLE, SAID IF HE'S ELECTED HE WILL END THE IOWA VALUES FUND, THE CENTERPIECE OF TOM VILSACK'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS. IF YOU'RE ELECTED, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE IOWA VALUES FUND?

Culver: WELL, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE THE TAXPAYERS GET THEIR MONEY'S WORTH, FIRST AND FOREMOST. AND I HAVE SAID THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THIS CAMPAIGN THAT THOSE COMPANIES THAT DON'T LIVE UP TO THEIR END OF THE DEAL WILL PAY BACK THE IOWA TAXPAYERS WITH PENALTIES. I THINK WE NEED VERY TOUGH CLAWBACK PROVISIONS. AND I AM VERY CONCERNED THAT MANY OF THESE COMPANIES HAVE NOT DELIVERED ON THEIR PROMISES. AND THAT WILL BE MY FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IS MAKING SURE THAT THESE COMPANIES COME THROUGH AND IN FACT DELIVER ON THE PROMISES THAT THEY MAKE.

Glover: BOTTOM LINE, DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?

Culver: IT HAS GREAT POTENTIAL. WE NEED TO MAKE IT BETTER.

My head hurts.


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