SIOUX CITY – Republican gubernatorial front-runner Bob Vander Plaats said today that Governor Chet Culver should bring together the state’s best business minds to develop a plan to fix Iowa’s economic climate and stop mounting job losses, including Tuesday’s announcement that 400 Lake Mills workers will be laid off as their jobs are moved to Mexico.
“This isn’t something that can wait until the next governor takes office. This is something that needs to be done right now, immediately, today,” Vander Plaats said in remarks prepared for a campaign appearance in Howard County.
Despite the state’s history of emerging from recessions later than other states, Culver has said since June that he hopes Iowa’s economy will lead a national recovery. Culver bases his prediction the state can wipe out a $900-million budget shortfall on that hope of a fast recovery.
“We know Chet Culver and legislative Democrats have spent far too much money and followed the foolhardy approach of adding 2,500 new state employees. On top of that, he’s borrowed money that’ll have to be paid back over many years to pay for his short-term I-Jobs program,” Vander Plaats said. “The answer is not to keep hiring public employees at the expense of the private sector and individual taxpayers. The answer is an immediate, laser focus on private sector jobs creation.”
He also said Culver’s support of broadening organized labor’s power and gutting Iowa’s right-to-work laws have sent a negative message to the state’s employers and prospective new businesses.
Noting that Culver just hired a Pennsylvania firm at a cost of $300,000 for an efficiency review of state government, Vander Plaats added, “He doesn’t need to hire out-of-staters and pay them big money to learn how to improve the economy. He needs to bring together a group of Iowa business leaders and entrepreneurs – people from companies large and small, successful and struggling. He needs to listen to their best advice about how to make our economy and tax structure more competitive and then he needs to follow that advice.”
Speaking specifically about firms that move to Mexico or off shore, the Sioux City businessman said that employers base their decisions about plant locations on more than simply wages. “If it was simply about paying the lowest possible wage, we wouldn’t have the iconic corporate names that we have in our state like Pella, John Deere and Principal, to name just a few. Iowa workers’ productivity makes them competitive across the world but we can no longer afford a business climate that puts them at a disadvantage.”
Iowa’s unemployment rate hit 6.5 percent, its highest level in more than two decades, under Culver’s watch.
“If there’s a glimmer of good economic news in Iowa, Chet Culver immediately tries to take credit for it. If it’s bad news, he continues to say it’s ‘one more sign of the impact the national economic recession is having on our state.’ At a time when he insists things are getting better, people are being laid off all around our state,” Vander Plaats said. “If there was ever a time for him to show leadership on an issue that matters to Iowans the issue is improving our economic competitiveness and the time is now.”
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