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Iowa Politics Roundup: Culver Takes Responsibility for “Mistakes” PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 20 August 2010 13:42

Iowa Governor Chet CulverGovernor Chet Culver used an appearance at the Iowa State Fair to say mistakes have been made under his watch, and to tell the approximately 100 fairgoers that he takes full responsibility for those mistakes.

"There's been a lot of criticism, there's been a lot of questions about things we've done or we've not done ... and I want to say that some of that criticism is justified and that we have made our fair share of mistakes," Culver said. "And I take full responsibility for those things that have happened in various state agencies, that happened on my watch, and I take responsibility for those mistakes that have been made."

Culver later elaborated, saying scandals in the Iowa Film Office and the Alcoholic Beverages Division are his responsibility, and that he must do all he can to effectively manage government and limit those mistakes. "The thing I feel good about is that we've replaced those individuals that were responsible and as quickly as I learned about those things, I acted, but I still take responsibility," Culver said.

Part of preventing future mistakes will be spending more time "shoulder-to-shoulder" with department directors and their senior staff, Culver said, and changing the communication structure from those agencies into the governor's office. He also said he wants to make sure employees feel comfortable blowing the whistle on mismanagement in state government.

House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) said he appreciates Culver's acknowledgment that mistakes had been made under his watch, "but he's yet to acknowledge one of his biggest mistakes -- increasing Iowans property taxes."

Paulsen said Culver knowingly spent too much money in Fiscal Year 2010, which led to a 10-percent across-the-board budget cut. He said property taxpayers were forced to pick up the tab to the tune of a $526.9-million increase. He also said state spending has increased by $1 billion since Culver took office.

"I look forward to Governor Culver acknowledging his fiscal mistakes and joining with House Republicans on our plan to put the taxpayer first, rein in government spending, and cut out waste in government," Paulsen said.

Republican Party of Iowa Chair Matt Strawn said Culver has waited too long to acknowledge his mistakes and that he has had plenty of times to correct them. He also said Culver should take responsibility for "wasting" $1.7 billion on the I-JOBS program and causing property taxes to increase.

Branstad Proposes Eliminating Economic-Development Department

Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Governor Terry Branstad is pushing to replace the Iowa Department of Economic Development with a public/private partnership called the "Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress" that would promote and market Iowa to attract new investment and jobs.

Branstad said the current Iowa Department of Economic Development is dysfunctional and scandal-ridden, and the public/private partnership would focus more on customer service for the state to keep or create jobs.

The partnership would have a chief executive officer and a board of directors with the lieutenant governor as its chairperson.

"Only by reworking the bureaucratic structure of state government will we be able to eliminate redundancies and roadblocks in our regulatory and economic-development efforts," Branstad said. "To attract and retain business, we must change the mindset of those charged with economic development and job creation."

Branstad also called for a cost/benefit analysis of the programs and incentives that cities, counties and the state use to attract and retain businesses. He said the current system is too complex, slow, and archaic. Branstad has said he wants to create 200,000 new jobs in the state, cut the corporate-income tax in half, and reduce commercial property taxes.

Culver criticized Branstad's proposals for economic development, education, and the state budget, saying the plans are short on details. "He put out a very light plan today on economic development -- a one-page plan that was actually proposed by Doug Gross, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2002," Culver said.

The governor defended Iowa's record on economic development, saying that in the past three years, Iowa has worked successfully with 251 businesses to bring 20,000 jobs to the state.

National Dems Settle on February for 2012 Caucuses

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) confirmed Friday that the Iowa caucuses will remain first in the nation in 2012.

The DNC is meeting in St. Louis. Under the plan, Democrats would hold the Iowa caucuses on February 6, 2012, and the New Hampshire primary eight days later. Nevada caucuses would be February 18, and the South Carolina primary would be February 28.

All other states would hold their primaries and caucuses March 6 or later. The plan essentially mirrors the schedule approved earlier this month by the Republican National Committee (RNC).

DNC Chair Tim Kaine had reassured Iowans earlier in the week that the state would retain its position. "Yeah, because if I want to get out of here alive, I've got to say 'yes,' and the answer is 'yes,'" Kaine said when asked during a visit to the Iowa State Fair if the Iowa caucuses would remain first.

"I have also worked with the RNC Chair Michael Steele so when they met, they agreed to do the same thing," Kaine said. "So we've lined up our calendar, which really not only keeps Iowa first, but it keeps Iowa-style politics first, which is the person-to-person, grassroots style which is such an important part of our country's tradition, and Iowa really leads the way in that."

Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Sam Roecker said there has been great support for Iowa to remain first in the nation. "That doesn't mean Iowa is guaranteed beyond 2012. There is still work to be done, and we will continue to work to keep Iowa as first in the nation," he said. "The first-in-the-nation status keeps Iowa as a national political voice and gives Iowans the opportunity to change the course of the nation, just as they did with President [Barack] Obama. It will be a strong start to President Obama's reelection."