This is one of those days where I just can’t seem to focus on a single topic, so I’ll pull out my cup of noon coffee and throw out a few random thoughts.
End of Legislative Session:
The good news here is that there was a compromise reached to pass a state budget. The bad news: the new budget didn’t really settle anything, nor did it put us in better shape for the future. As it stands, there is no long term plan for educational financing, Medicaid, IPERS or property tax reform. What we did get was some reshuffling of bank accounts and a further drain on the reserves we do have.
What To Do About Tobacco?:
Why is it that dealing with tobacco is so difficult? GOP Senators struggled with the notion of “associating cigarette taxes with Medicaid”, instead pushing “higher cigarette taxes to lower property taxes”. (What happens if people smoke less?) That, and the legislature decided that “borrowing” from that trust fund created by the tobacco settlement wouldn’t have to be repaid.
From this seat, it’s difficult to tell what might happen with the sale of Maytag, although the writing on the wall is fairly clear. What I will predict, however: the investment group purchasing Maytag will try to use Iowa’s commitment to the Values Fund to extort a little extra profit from the state government.
Slot Machines For Education: Back when I was a kid, one of the fund raisers that parents took seriously was General Mills’ “Boxtops For Education” program. In 2005, the best way to raise money for schools seems to be at the slot machine. Part of the casino’s profits will go to five school districts in three counties, with some going to Worth County students who will all be eligible for scholarships. The rest goes to economic development and community projects. “This is huge for our schools,” said Miller, a former classroom teacher from Northwood with three young daughters. Do we really want to get involved in a system that needs close regulation to fund vital programs? Besides, sometimes the economic development that comes with “sin industries” is not always wanted.
Fresh Produce Makes A Difference:
One of the trends that I have come to appreciate is the increasing frequency of Farmer’s Markets in the state. I think it’s always a good thing to spend some of my food dollars to support local producers. The Leopold Center published a study that says something this simple can make a real economic impact.
Farmers’ markets not only are a great place to get fresh produce, flowers and baked goods, they also may generate an estimated $20.8 million in sales and more than 325 jobs for the Iowa economy.
325 jobs might not seem like much in comparison to other industries – but these are 325 jobs that don’t take much money to create, and 325 jobs that won’t relocate, off-shore, or disappear. For the most part, these are also 325 jobs that are created by people running their own businesses. That’s worth supporting with a weekly visit.