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I-JOBS requires strong oversight

By Staff | May 8, 2009

In one of its final acts before adjourning, the Legislature finalized legislation creating I-JOBS – Iowa’s Infrastructure Investment Initiative, a $715 million program to create jobs, help flood victims, rebuild communities and support economic recovery.

In paying tribute to this important bill that he had supported strongly, Gov. Chet Culver said it incorporates ideas from a wide array of legislators, local officials and members of the public.

“I-JOBS will help rebuild a smarter, safer and stronger Iowa,” the governor said in a statement issued April 25. “It will allow us to speed up our recovery from one of the worst natural disasters in American history. It will put people to work. From transportation to housing, from education to technology, from alternative energy to water systems, no aspect of our public infrastructure will go untouched.”

This massive spending bill will direct monies to many needed projects. Here is a financial summary Iowa’s Infrastructure Investment Initiative:

  • Funding for veterans home, community colleges and other public improvements – $285 million.
  • Ongoing flood recovery and rebuilding – $165 million.
  • Transportation infrastructure improvements – $115 million.
  • Improving the environment and water quality – $80 million.
  • Meeting Iowa’s housing needs – $35 million.
  • Investing in telecommunications and renewable energy – $35 million.

The major financial commitments this program makes, of course, ultimately will be funded by taxpayer dollars – either today or at some point in the future.

Consequently, it’s encouraging that Culver is taking the same approach to accountability for state spending that he took with respect to the federal stimulus dollars being provided to the Hawkeye State. He assured President Obama and taxpayers everywhere that those stimulus monies would be spent properly and accounted for truthfully and with great transparency. The governor said he will guarantee that the I-JOBS projects will be scrutinized with similar care.

“I-JOBS will be a model of accountability and transparency so that every Iowan knows just how these funds are being spent, and Iowans will be able to track our progress 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on www.recovery.iowa.gov,” Culver said. “The I-JOBS board will be composed of knowledgeable professionals, who will ensure that the projects chosen have real value to Iowa’s communities, and that every effort is made for these projects to come in on time and on budget.”

Those are powerful and encouraging words, governor. They are also commitments that Iowa taxpayers expect you to honor fully.

I-JOBS can help make Iowa better and more prosperous if the huge expenditures are made with a hard-headed determination to make every dollar produce the return on investment that has been promised. Guaranteeing that outcome should be a high priority for Culver and all state officials in the months ahead.

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