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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Culver veto threat kills gas-tax increase

By Jason Hancock | 03.06.09 | 1:48 pm

Gov. Chet Culver’s promise to veto any bill that increases the state’s fuel tax has likely killed the proposal for this session.

Gov. Chet Culver said Friday he will veto any attempt to increase the state's fuel tax.

Gov. Chet Culver said Friday he will veto any attempt to increase the state's fuel tax.

Culver, who has been an outspoken critic of the idea, previously stopped short of saying he would veto it. That changed today.

“I have been clear and consistent in my opposition to an increase in the gas tax, but let me leave no doubt: I will veto any increase in the gas tax,” Culver said. “We have many important issues to address this year, including creating new jobs, but raising taxes on hard-working Iowans is not one of them.”

The governor said he wanted to make his position clear so lawmakers would not spend any more time this session with the issue. Both the House and Senate Transportation committees were set to discuss an increase next week.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, sponsored the bill to increase the gas tax.  He told The Des Moines Register that without the governor’s support, the bill is dead.

A broad coalition of supporters had lined up behind the gas tax, including Democratic leaders in the Legislature, Republican state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, the Iowa Farm Bureau and local chambers of commerce. Culver, along with Republican leadership in the state Senate, stood opposed to the measure, saying raising any tax during an economic recession is poor public policy.

Supporters of the fuel-tax increase contend that Iowa needs more money to maintain the road system and make improvements to support economic development. A 10-cent increase in fuel taxes would raise an additional $210 million annually for city, county and state road projects. Iowa’s fuel tax currently ranks 32nd nationally and hasn’t been raised since 1989.

Culver has insisted that the recently passed federal stimulus package, in conjunction with his plan to borrow nearly $750 million, is a better way to pay for road and bridge repair than raising the fuel tax.

“President Obama’s federal recovery plan provides Iowa with over $350 million for transportation,” Culver said. “And my own jobs and infrastructure proposal will include another $250 million for transportation, especially for road safety and deficient bridges. These two better options mean more than $600 million to create jobs and improve our infrastructure, without raising taxes on Iowans.”

However, some economists fear that combination of funds is a short-term fix and will leave the state looking for infrastructure funding again when it runs out.

“If you want to fix the roads, the most efficient way to fix the roads is charge a user fee and in the current environment, the most efficient user fee is some type of fuel tax,” Arne Hallam, an economist at Iowa State University, recently told a joint session of House and Senate Transportation committees.

Rielly implied to The Register that while a gas-tax increase is dead this session there is little doubt it will need to be raised in the years to come, an idea Culver said he is open to.

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