Branstad, Reynolds, Hogg And Jobs

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The king is in China, but little will change

Remember the bogus numbers the Branstad administration would put out monthly on job creation? Branstad had set a goal of 200.000 jobs in 5 years which was a very lofty goal. Knowing that that would be one number that his administration would be judged by. So if the target is lofty and as governor his actual effect on jobs is much more dependent on factors outside of his control, what was a Branstad to do to show that he was meeting his goals. Remember that Republicans repute themselves to be the jobs party.

Also remember that it was his party that drove the economy of the country into a swamp of toxic mortgages and bad loans that saw people losing jobs at a record pace and the middle class seeing their life savings wiped out. Branstad was in the fortunate position to to begin his second shot at governor at a time when the Obama administration had righted the economic ship and was in the process of making steady solid economic growth.

Still the goals Branstad set were lofty. No doubt he new they would be nearly impossible to reach. So would he prepare the usual excuses blaming Democrats or would there be another approach? And the answer is a another creative approach. That was to only count job additions and not subtract jobs that go away. Or if it were your check book, you would only count deposits and not subtract any payments.

Mike Owen at the ever reliable and accurate Iowa Policy Project takes a look at the real numbers and notes the chicanery that the Branstad administration put into producing the bogus numbers to make it look like they had achieved their goals.

Last week, IWD released its first report on monthly job numbers since Governor Kim Reynolds took office, and the “gross” gains line was gone from the official spreadsheet.

“So, for the sake at least of history, a little context:

Through the five years of the Governor’s goal, Iowa produced 92,100 new jobs.

Through the end of the Governor’s tenure, Iowa produced 106,900 new jobs.

In fact, we didn’t reach 200,000 under even the Governor’s counting gimmick until January of this year, a year late. Meeting the goal would have required 60 months averaging over 3,300 net new jobs a month. Instead, we have seen far less:

The actual job numbers and what they may illustrate remain more important than Governor Branstad’s spin on them. It would be a mistake to devote undue further attention to the fake numbers.

Likewise, it would be a mistake to attribute any general job trends — positive or negative, even legitimately derived with actual math —principally to state efforts. Much larger forces are at work. Plus, overselling the state role feeds poor policy choices, namely to sell expensive and unaccountable tax breaks, supposedly to create jobs, at the expense of the public services that make a strong business environment possible and make our state one where people want to raise families.

Iowa needs more jobs and better jobs. To understand whether we’re getting them requires responsible treatment of data, and honest debate with it.”

What prompted this look into the Branstad record was the weekly Rob Hogg email where he discusses the current Iowa budget mess where one of the big solutions to the mismanagement by Branstad/Reynolds and an ideologically driven legislature is to throw state workers out of their jobs.

Below is the email discussing the current budget mess from Senator Robb Hogg:

In case you missed it, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced another $1.2 million in budget cuts earlier this month.

These cuts eliminated the forestry bureau, terminated and did not replace the forestry chief, terminated and did not replace the state geologist, and eliminated the DNR’s trail crew program in which two full-time DNR employees worked with federally-funded AmeriCorps workers to maintain and develop trails and other amenities in state parks.

Check out this Des Moines Register article on the DNR budget cuts.

These cuts come on top of nearly a decade in reductions for the DNR budget, which was $22.1 million as recently as FY09. The Branstad-Reynolds-Republican budget for the DNR in FY18 is only $11.3 million, nearly a 50-percent cut over the last nine years.

Loss of DNR Trail Crew Hurts Youth Employment

Think about the loss of the DNR trail crew program. The DNR had already eliminated its state-funded “Restore the Outdoors” program, and now it’s turning away federally-funded AmeriCorps workers.

This program was important to maintain and improve the quality of our state parks. For example, AmeriCorps workers recently helped restore trails and make other improvements at Palisades-Kepler State Park in Linn County. In fact, in 2015, the DNR put Palisades-Kepler State Park on its “must hike” list because of the “Civil Conservation Corps and Iowa DNR AmeriCorps Trail Crew stone and native timber work incorporated throughout the trail system.”

The trail crew program was also important for youth employment and providing national service opportunities. According to Governing Magazine, unemployment for young people between ages 16 and 24 was still 7.2 percent in Iowa in 2016.

Although youth unemployment has fallen significantly since the Great Recession, it’s still too high. I believe every young person in our state should have an opportunity for national service. Eliminating the DNR trail crew AmeriCorps program is a step in the wrong direction.

Some people have said that DNR layoffs are just the beginning, with more layoffs to come because of the state’s current budget mess. However, other layoffs have already happened, most notably in corrections, where facilities were closed earlier this year in Allamakee County, Lee County, Page County and O’Brien County.

In addition, budget cuts have already hurt local environmental projects (like the $4 million cut to REAP), agricultural research (eliminating funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture), and forced tuition increases (mid-year budget cuts to our community colleges and universities).

Share Your Ideas to Reverse Iowa’s Budget Mess, Get Iowa’s Economy Going Again

We need to reverse Iowa’s budget mess. I want to hear from you about your ideas to fix Iowa’s budget and get our economy going again. To start the discussion, here are two of my ideas.

First, let’s plug some of the leaks in our budget, like the Branstad-Reynolds administrative rule in 2015 that exempted industrial supplies from sales tax on top of existing exemptions for industrial machinery and equipment, and look at other tax credits that are not carefully targeted to serve the public interest.

Second, let’s get our economy going, by creating good-paying jobs and raising family incomes. Government layoffs, budget cuts, and recent legislation against the minimum wage and workers’ rights have taken us in the wrong direction. Branstad and Reynolds promised to create 200,000 new jobs and raise family incomes by 25 percent, but they haven’t gotten the job done.

I have other more specific ideas to get our economy going, create jobs and raise family incomes, but I’d like to hear from you first.

Over the coming weeks, I will be reaching out to ask Iowans to share ideas to get Iowa going again. Feel free to contact me at this e-mail address with your ideas – the more specific, the better – to help Iowa create a more prosperous future.

I hope to hear from you soon. Keep in touch.

Rob

Senator Rob Hogg
Senate Democratic Leader
Cedar Rapids

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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