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Iowa's Governor Creates New ED Authority to Spark Innovation, Create Jobs, in State

07/21/2011
In state capitols across America, some big ideas are turning into new programs to literally save family businesses and farms. For instance, Iowa's Gov. Terry Branstad has signed into law a bill forming the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress--a new economic development authority charged with the task of creating 200,000 jobs over the next five years.

The new authority and its board should be operational this fall. It replaces the Iowa Department of Economic Development, an agency dogged by a film tax credit scandal a few years back.

The law also establishes a new a nonprofit group intent on jumpstarting innovation in the state.

"We must provide a business environment which is competitive with other states," said the governor. For example, he pointed out that commercial property valued at $500,000 in Des Moines "pays more tax than similar property in New York City..A comparison of rural commercial property tax rates yields similar results. I want to work with local governments to reduce commercial property taxes to less than the Midwest average." Doing this, he said, will attract new businesses and jobs to Iowa communities.

In previous public comments, he has put forth two other plans for creating prosperity in Iowa. One involves increasing family incomes by 25 percent; the other, reducing the cost of state government by 15 percent by using new technologies and other efficiencies.

"I also [want to] return government to a pay-as-you-go basis," Gov. Branstad has stated. "Bonding for today's projects, and paying them off over the next 23 years at twice the cost due to interest, is wrong. Additionally, to clean up state government, I will end the use of "notwithstanding" language that allows the Legislature to circumvent the state's 99 percent spending limitation. Our state government should not spend more than it takes in."

Another governor with big economic "boost" plans too is Gov. Rick Scott of Florida. That state's unemployment rate fell from 11.9 percent to 10.6 percent while nationally unemployment has gone up since he took office in January. In addition, Florida's $3.8 billion shortfall in the fiscal 2012 budget was eliminated. .

According to a story by The Fiscal Times, Scott is claiming credit for creating nearly 77,000 private-sector jobs with his new programs. "I ran on a very specific campaign-seven steps to 700,000 jobs [in seven years]-and we did all of those things or are doing all of those things," Scott told the news outlet. "My job is to make sure our state gets back to work, make sure this is the state that's most likely to succeed, and is the most efficient. And we're heading in that direction."

Scott's plan is to invest in a state Innovation Fund to attract high-tech companies, cut government spending, eliminate unnecessary state regulation, reduce property taxes for homeowners, and phase iout the state's business income tax.

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