Published with permission from the Fall 2017 issue of The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter.
by State Senator Joe Bolkcom
Are you mad about Governor Reynold’s decision to waste money giving Apple a 20-million-dollar tax break? You should be.
She just gave Apple a 20-million dollar tax break to build a data center in Iowa, something one of the world’s richest corporations was going to do anyway.
Iowa does not need to bribe large corporations to build big data centers here.
Electricity is a data center’s biggest ongoing cost. Iowa has lots of low cost, reliable, renewable electricity.
Iowa is also relatively free from earthquakes, has lots of water and our winters reduce the cost of cooling hot computer servers.
In addition, there’s already an Iowa sales tax exemption on the electricity consumed by data centers, a tax break worth tens of millions of dollars.
With those built-in advantages, why did Apple—and Facebook, Microsoft, and Google before Apple—get tens of millions of additional Iowa tax dollars to do what they were going to do anyway?
The answer: the millions came from a broken state economic development program that is an open checkbook on autopilot.
The deceptively named “High Quality Jobs” program showers large corporations with state tax dollars based on construction and building costs. The giveaways have more to do with fattening the bottom line than they do with the number of new jobs created.
Since 2011, the “High Quality Jobs” program has cost Iowa taxpayers more than $352 million in tax exemptions. For that enormous sum, we’ve gotten just 1,300 new jobs in return-at a cost of nearly 3 million dollars per job!
And, unlike families seeking help with nursing home costs or college tuition bills, these large corporations do not have to prove they need the money.
In short, Apple, the richest corporation on the planet with a value of $750 billion, did not need a handout from Iowa taxpayers to build this data center.
Governor Reynolds’ budget crisis can’t be solved without dealing with the fastest growing part of state spending: tax giveaways.
And we can’t jump start our state’s economy until we stand up to powerful Des Moines special interests, and direct more resources towards small towns and rural areas.
This won’t be easy, because corporate-backed Republicans control Iowa’s state government from top to bottom.
Everyone trying to change that fact faces a daunting deadline.
The 2018 election will be here before we know it. There will be an election for Governor, and half the Iowa Senate seats and all the Iowa House seats will be up for election.
I believe this election will determine the future of Iowa.
Look what’s happened since radical Republicans took complete control of Iowa’s state government in the Trump Election.
In short order they:
• Gutted Iowa’s collective bargaining laws
• Closed women’s health clinics
• Slashed state help for victims of domestic abuse
• Cut the wages of more than 60,000 minimum wage workers, many in Johnson County
• Deeply cut Iowa’s grossly inadequate efforts to protect at risk children
• Cut tens of millions of dollars from our state universities (and plan to cut much more)
• Threw Iowans dying from asbestos poisoning under the bus
• Made it harder for you, me, and every other Iowan to vote
• Weakened environmental protections and cut funding for the Leopold Center
• And much more, taken straight from the Koch Brothers/Fox News/Breitbart playbook.
A big reason Iowa Republicans are destroying Iowa education and selling off our health care safety net is to fund corporate handouts like the Apple deal.
To stay in power, they are attacking working people and making it hard for Iowans to vote. Remember, there is nothing in Iowa’s constitution to prevent them from gerrymandering our election districts, like they’ve done in almost every other Republican-controlled state.
Are you mad about any of this? Are you working to flip Iowa from red to blue? You should be.
– State Senator Joe Bolkcom
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