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Culver misses the point

By Staff | Feb 9, 2010

Chet Culver doesn’t get it.

The state government is facing a massive deficit. Instead of outlining an aggressive plan to bring the state’s commitments in line with realistic revenue projections, Iowa’s governor delivered a Condition of the State speech last month that was long on platitudes and distressingly short on substance.

At a time of budgetary crisis, it would be reasonable to expect the Hawkeye State’s governor to deliver a courageous plan for restoring financial integrity to state spending. What we got in Culver’s remarks was a defensive rehash of a strategy for Iowa that has already failed. More of the same is exactly what this state does not need.

The governor devoted a portion of his talk to a review of what was allegedly good news about Iowa’s economy. It is certainly true that Iowans do not face as devastating a business environment as is being experienced in places like Michigan or as much governmental red ink as the likes of California. The lesson the governor and lawmakers should draw from that, however, is not that business as usual at the Capitol is acceptable. We still have time to set things right, but the opportunity to do so is slipping away.

Iowa’s economic problems are still manageable. That may not remain true if the governor and legislators fail to face up to harsh realities.

The time is at hand for a thorough, unromantic assessment of all state and local government spending. The goal should be to determine what expenditures are actually essential. Priorities must be set. Tough choices are required. Some spending that could be defended in more prosperous times may need to be ended, or at least reduced, given the difficult times at hand.

Republicans warned Culver and the Democrats who control the Legislature that the expensive agenda they were determined to pursue last year was a recipe for financial catastrophe. To a substantial degree that prediction has proved correct.

If the situation is to be rectified, it is imperative that there be a recognition that serious mistakes have been made. Problems can’t be addressed unless they are admitted.

Nevertheless, the governor chose to devote much of his speech to a justification of the commitments he and his party have made since taking control of state government. Unless a serious rethinking of those decisions takes place, there is no chance that a prudent budgetary strategy will emerge.

Iowa needs a leader in the governor’s office. Chet Culver is an enormous failure in that regard. His Condition of the State speech is further evidence that he simply does not have the courage or vision to be at the helm of this state. Iowans are fortunate that this is an election year. In November, they will have the opportunity to send this disappointing governor home.

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