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Culver, Branstad Report Millions Raised in 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 15 January 2010 15:35

Former Republican Governor Terry Branstad raised $1.55 million in the two and a half months after the start of his campaign and had $1.36 million left at the end of the year, while Democratic Governor Chet Culver raised $2.15 million in the past 12 months and ended the year with $2.59 million in his campaign chest.

"These fundraising numbers posted by the two governors forebode a very vigorous and spirited statewide campaign ahead," observed Pete Jeffries, senior counsel for Republican Jim Nussle's 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

The Culver and Branstad campaigns revealed their 2009 fundraising totals Thursday in advance of this month's campaign-finance deadline to the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board. Further details of their contributors and the size of their donations are expected to be revealed after the three-day weekend.

Information provided by the two candidates shows that Branstad had 3,044 contributors, while Culver had more than 1,000. Ninety-four percent of Branstad's fundraising dollars came from Iowans, while 85 percent of Culver's donors are Iowa residents.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Chris Rants of Sioux City, Rod Roberts of Carroll, and Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City had yet to release their campaign finance numbers as of Friday. Former Des Moines school-board member Jonathan Narcisse, who said he will run as either a Democrat or independent, also had not released his numbers as of Friday.

Legislature Starts Work on Government-Reorganization Bill

The legislature began work this week on what's expected to be its landmark bill this session -- a sweeping government-reorganization and -efficiency act designed to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.

"We have so much in one bill that it scares me," said Senator Randy Feenstra (R-Hull).

Dozens of stakeholders packed a standing-room-only Senate subcommittee meeting to discuss the bill, which is scheduled to go before the Senate State Government Committee on Wednesday and is expected to be on the Senate floor the week after that.

Those representing state agencies were there, along with universities and private-sector entities such as Microsoft and the Iowa Newspaper Association (INA). The representative from Microsoft called the merging of information technology "significant" and "fruitful."

An INA official opposed a provision of the bill that would move public notices from newspapers to government Web sites. "I just don't think it's realistic they're going to do that," she said of Iowans looking for the notices online.

But Larry Pope of the Iowa League of Cities advocated for the change. "People are moving daily to the Internet," he said. "This is the future. ... We believe the savings to cities is substantial."

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) said the legislation would be "the first big bill" of the session, setting the tone for Fiscal Year 2011 budget discussions.

Gronstal said there's "deep, broad support" among Democrats for government reorganization that realigns state government with available revenues, as well as "great cooperation from the Republicans in this effort." That bipartisanship stems from the fact that Republicans last year offered many of the ideas for cost savings included in the bill.

Gronstal acknowledged that there will eventually be opposition to portions of the reorganization bill that includes e-government innovations, purchasing consolidation, and the merger of several state agencies. "Certainly, there will be push-back, and some of that will be legitimate," he said.

"There are pieces that could end up in the bill that would preclude people from supporting it," said Representative Scott Raecker (R-Urbandale), a member of the House State Government Committee. "I have no expectation that any of the four labor bills would end up in the reorganization bill. If one was to end up in there, obviously, that would be pretty much a line in the sand that, all right, the bipartisanship is over."

Culver Plans to Use $100 Million from Reserves to Backfill Cut

Culver's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011 will: include the last installment of the four-year, $60-million commitment to preschool; fully fund the 2-percent allowable growth for schools; and use at least $100 million from the state's reserves to restore some of last year's 10-percent across-the-board budget cut.

"This will be a real shot in the arm for some of our schools, especially in rural districts, which are already cash-strapped with depleted reserves," Culver said in his Condition of the State Speech before a joint session of the legislature.

Culver used his third Condition of the State speech to outline his top 10 legislative and budget priorities for 2010. They include:

  • Jobs: Fully funding community-college job training, adequately funding Iowa Workforce Development, fully funding the Iowa Power Fund, and allocating remaining $100 million of I-JOBS;
  • Efficiency: Enact remaining recommendations of the Government Efficiency Report to save more than $200 million next year and nearly $1 billion over the next five years. This includes early retirement or a four-day work week for some state employees, reducing the state vehicle fleet and eliminating redundant information technology.
  • Flood recovery: Fully funding the Rebuild Iowa Office.
  • Public safety: Explore every option available, including transferring money from the road fund, to ensure adequate funding for the Iowa State Patrol and the Department of Public Safety.
  • Tax credits: Acting on the recommendations of the Tax Credit Review Panel to make sure tax credits work as intended.

Culver said the state must fund the Iowa National Guard, noting that 3,500 people will soon be deployed to Afghanistan -- the largest single overseas deployment since World War II. He said his budget will continue the investment in children's health insurance. And he asked legislators to require school districts to spend down a portion of their reserves before increasing property taxes.

Culver described the condition of the state as "resilient" and used his speech to argue against those who say there's a $1-billion shortfall, to outline 10 steps he's taken to manage the state through the economic downturn, and to tout I-JOBS, his signature $830-million bonding-for-infrastructure program that lawmakers approved last year.

"And speaking of the budget, some politicians and armchair quarterbacks appear to be confused about our current budget situation," Culver said. "Let's end their confusion! Here are the facts. Today, the budget is balanced. And it has been balanced every single day I've been governor."