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IOWA

Iowa

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.iowa.gov/recovery/

Iowa's state Recovery Act website scored 52 out of 100 possible points (ranking 20th) on Good Jobs First's updated 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus (Again). The state earned points for breaking down stimulus allocations into broad and narrow categories, and for using an interactive map to provide contract/grant details and recipient jobs data for individual contracts and grants.

For detailed scoring information, see the Iowa appendix of Show Us the Stimulus (Again).

Coordination & Oversight

Gov. Chet Culver set up "an ARRA implementation working group comprised of representatives of two dozen state agencies to establish a coordinated process to (a) report on stimulus funds available to Iowa thru various federal grants and (b) to track the federal requirements and deadlines associated with the grants."

On April 14 the state published a progress report on the implementation of stimulus programs. Gov. Culver also announced the creation of the Iowa Accountability & Transparency Board. The board monitors state recovery efforts and reports back to the governor with recommendations.

Iowa is one of the 16 states whose stimulus spending is being closely monitored by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Policy Debates

There has been some controversy and reluctance regarding stimulus spending in Iowa, and the Des Moines Register reported that a state public opinion poll found that a majority of respondents felt they would not benefit from Recovery Act spending. While some elected leaders were slow to embrace the stimulus funds to help with state budget problems, they moved quickly to enable acceptance of unemployment insurance improvements,  In fact, Iowa became the first state in the country to pass a full package of unemployment insurance modernization reforms, a major component of the Recovery Act. Iowa used $529 million of stimulus funds to help close a budget gap for fiscal year 2010 which began July 1st.

Previously, the Register published an editorial urging the state to follow several principles in spending the stimulus money: avoid the creation of ongoing programs or jobs; use the money as intended by Congress; and ensure transparency. Some Republicans argued that a portion of the stimulus money be saved for future budget years.

The state auditor's office has produced a critical assessment of the 2010 state's budget and its use of stimulus funds to address revenue problems.  The state auditor is a Republican, while the Governor and both houses of the General Assembly are controlled by the Democrats.

Some Republicans argued that a portion of the stimulus money be saved for future budget years.  Republican criticism of the "cliff" created by using stimulus funding in the FY09 and FY10 budgets has emerged as a major theme following the end of the 2009 legislative session.

The city of Des Moines agreed to pay $90,000 to consultant Holland & Knight for help in getting the maximum share of stimulus dollars.

In an effort to secure a portion of the $8 billion in stimulus funds for high-speed rail, Gov. Chet Culver has pledged to coordinate with 7 other Midwest Governors in the creation of a system that would connect 12 metropolitan areas.

Despite high rates of working parents, Iowa has one of the lowest eligibility limits for child-care assistance, according to Lily French of the Iowa Policy Project. The state has received $18.1 million in federal stimulus funds for child-care assistance, but has chosen to hold on to this money instead of expanding family support now.  The state is concerned that welfare demands will increase in fiscal year 2011 and wants to have the money ready at that time. French argues this policy of holding the money goes against the intent of the ARRA.

Last updated on: 27 January, 2010

Watchdog Groups

Iowa Fiscal Partnership, a joint initiative of the Iowa Policy Project and the Child & Family Policy Center

 

Resources

In March the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, published a Policy Brief on using stimulus funding to balance the state's budget and maintain essential services. It concludes that "federal fiscal relief for education and Medicaid to Iowa is likely to be sufficient, if used over the next two budget years, to stabilize higher education spending at 2009 appropriation levels, while maintaining commitments to school foundation allowable growth and medical assistance services through Medicaid."

At the same time, however, the report notes that federal stimulus funds are not sufficient to maintain other state budget programs at even their 2009 appropriations levels and, at best, covers less than half of the projected shortfall in funding.  IFP also calls for a review of the revenue side of the state budget as well as the expenditure side, with a specific emphasis upon closing tax loopholes and providing transparency in tax expenditures.  The IFP is continuing to monitor state use of ARRA funds and determine the implications for the 2011 budget.

Iowa's Legislative Services Agency, the Legislature's non-partisan research agency, also posts information on how Recovery Act funding is being used in the state budget on its website.

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