Exposing the Myth of I-Jobs and Flood Recovery

…according to the I-Jobs web site, only…37.6 percent, was used for flood recovery…

In defending his massive borrowing program known as I-Jobs, the Governor has shifted the purpose of the program from creating jobs to flood recovery and prevention.

The Governor has responded to Republican criticism of I-Jobs by asking how we would propose paying for flood recovery and prevention, suggesting that the only way to fund it was to borrow $810 million.

Here is a breakdown of the bonding contained in three bills that established I-Jobs:

  • Senate File 376 (I-Jobs) – Borrowed $545 million, cost of repayment is $1.202 billion
  • Senate File 474 (Regents) – Borrowed $115 million, cost of repayment is $252 million
  • Senate File 477 (State Infrastructure) – Borrowed $105 million (later increased to $150 million) – cost of repayment is $213 million (the repayment number remained the same)

The total amount borrowed is $810 million and will cost $1.667 billion to repay over the next 23 years. In addition, they provided $65 million in cash for local roads and bridges for a total of $875 million for the program. However, the $65 million is not required to be repaid.

The Governor claims that this amount was needed to pay for flood recovery. However, according to the I-Jobs web site, only $328.6 million out of the $875 million, or 37.6 percent, was used for flood recovery and prevention. If you include the cost of borrowing the money, the percentage drops to 19.6 percent.

In addition, according to Legislative Services Agency (LSA), the Democrats have used notwithstanding language to raid the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) over the past four years. In the past three years alone the Democrats have shifted over $450 million out of the RIIF to use for general fund purposes. That would have been more than enough money to cover the costs of flood recovery.

Democrats usually answer that fact by explaining that had they not shifted money out of the RIIF to pay for non-RIIF expenditures, they would have had to cut those expenditures out of the budget. Naturally this leads to the questions – how and where do Republicans plan to cut? It just so happens that over that last two sessions, Republicans in the Iowa House have proposed nearly $500 million in budget reductions.

So the answer to the question “How would Republicans pay for flood recovery” is that Republicans would not have raided $450 million out of the RIIF and used pay-as-you-go budgeting to fund flood recovery. To suggest that this is not possible just means that the Governor and the Democrats are unable to make any choices regarding spending and are unable to prioritize in order to fund the important items like flood recovery.