The future of I-JOBS uncertain with new governor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The future of I-JOBS uncertain with new governor

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- You've heard a lot about the I-JOBS program since Governor Chet Culver unveiled it in March 2009. Since, it's paid for a number of projects across the state. But the future of the program is unclear.

There's more than $871 million in total funding for I-JOBS.  More than two-thirds will be used, but more than $212 million remains.
Governor-Elect Terry Branstad says he doesn't want it spent.

Governor-elect Branstad says I-JOBS was a mistake. Where the money has been committed, it will be spent. Where it's just a proposal, he'll go through and look at each project on a case-by-case basis.

There is a big plan in the works for the space between the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, and the new Great River Center.

"This space will become our River Plaza and it will connect the space between Mississippi River Center to the National River Center," John Sutter said.

The $40 million project has taken sometime to develop. The museum first raised money from donors. Then received several grants. Meantime the city applied for a grant to complete their portion of the project. They received $1.23 million through I-JOBS.

"If we didn't have that type of funding through the grant opportunities we'd rely on our charitable donations. And some of our admission income to pay for the plaza. It'd make things a little more difficult for us. And it would increase our timeline. It'd take us longer to get this done," Sutter said.

And this project is one of 32 receiving more than $3.9 million in Dubuque County. Thursday Governor-Elect Terry Branstad pledged to end I-JOBS spending, saying he would prefer not to spend more money on projects.

"I believe the Governor wants to keep those in place. Those that have already received the money... we're not gonna pull the rug out from underneath them. But at the same time we need to take a look at this because it's a significant outlay of taxpayer money," Assistant House Republican Leader Steve Lukan said.

"We have to take these [remaining] dollars and use them wisely and really the big goal is to try to minimize the amount of debt we're gonna have to pay," Lukan said.

Either way, the funding for the plaza project in Dubuque will continue to come in. That's because it's already been appropriated.

Also in Dubuque, the Bee Branch Project has been awarded I-JOBS money.  Several other grants have been appropriated for road construction projects around the county.


Here's a look at the funding that's already been awarded in some of our other counties:
More than $142 million committed in Johnson County.
$88 million in Linn County.
Nearly $22 million committed in Black Hawk County.

According to an I-JOBS report to the governor's office in July 2010, the I-JOBS plan has already created more than 7,000 jobs. But Governor-Elect Branstad says the jobs are short term and not the sustainable jobs Iowans want.

Online Reporter:
Lauren Squires

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