BACK TO CALI: Criticism Left Behind

When Governor Terry Branstad takes off early Tuesday morning on his two-day travel trip, we know it is destination California. But the exact location is a secret. Monday morning the governor defended the secrecy and said it is up to businesses to divulge whether they are considering expansion plans, not for the governor trying to lure them to his state. He said, “We’re not going to talk about the details of that. But it’s a happy hunting ground.”

Branstad feels it is a happy hunting ground because while Iowa lawmakers debate lowering taxes for companies, California is raising taxes. The governor said, “You know, California’s got a sign out that basically says, it’s like we used to say in the army, if it doesn’t move, paint it. Their plan is if it doesn’t move, tax it.”

Some Iowa Democrats are focused on a previous deal the governor made that they feel stinks. Senate Democrats tweeted a message from Senator Joe Bolkcom, of Iowa City. The tweet read, “Orascom fertilizer plant was the worst economic development deal ever.”

The governor pushed for nearly $200 million in tax credits for the new plant in Lee County. The company’s subsidiary elsewhere faces a federal lawsuit that claims it fraudulently represented itself to the government to try to get a federal contract. Economic Development officials say they didn’t know about the suit and the company had no obligation to tell Iowa officials when they reached their incentives deal with the state. For the record, Orascom denied any wrongdoing. And the governor stands behind it. He said, “I think it’s a very good decision and obviously it’s a huge investment. It creates jobs in the county that had the highest unemployment in the state.”

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