“99 Ideas”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants of Sioux City has chosen 99 as the number of ideas he’ll list on a new website.  His first of 99 ideas involves saving for a downpayment on a home. 

Why 99? Perhaps Rants was humming that awful “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” tune when he settled on the number.  Or maybe — since Rants was coming of age in the ’80s — he was humming the 1983-84 recording of “99 Red Balloons” which was a one-hit wonder by Nena.

Here’s this morning’s news release from Rants:

“Good campaigns are about more than just Candidate A or Candidate B. Good campaigns are about issues facing us as Iowans, and more importantly the ideas and solutions to address those issues,” said Rep. Chris Rants, candidate for Governor from Sioux City.  “This 99 Ideas page is the place where I will present new ideas to improve Iowa.”

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Gronstal on “Iowa Press”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) is the guest on this evening’s edition of “Iowa Press” on IPTV. (It will be shown on the 11.3 digital “IPTV WORLD” channel.)

Gronstal gave the state tax credits for film makers a 50-50 chance of survival.  Read the Radio Iowa story here.

Gronstal also said it is “highly likely” that Governor Culver will order an across-the-board cut in the state budget this month.  Gronstal went on to say the governor’s cut should be deep, and he warned that unless there’s a major turn-around, legislators will not be able to provide some funding restoration to areas of the budget when the 2010 session convenes in January.

“My recommendation would be to take a larger cut and then if things turn out to be better than expected, we can certainly make adjustments in the next session of the legislature, but right now I think we continue to be troubled by this national recession that’s effected our revenues just stunningly so I’d take the bigger and if we got lucky and things turn out better than expected we can always go back and fix some things, but right now things do not look like they’re getting better,” Gronstal said.

Gronstal predicted jobs in state government won’t be filled and while Gronstal said he hoped the budget cuts in agencies could be managed trhough attritution, he told reporters after the show that a “few, limited layoffs” may be necessary. 

“I think we have a very daunting task for next year’s budget,” Gronstal said on the program.  “…It is going to be a challenge and there is going to be pain.”

Gronstal ruled out raising taxes.  “I think we need to respect what’s happening to family budgets out there.  They’re going through the same kinds of struggles and we’re going to pile on by adding new taxes at the state level,” Gronstal said.  “…This isn’t the right time to be engaging in that.”

Gronstal said there might be some fee increases, however — pointing to last year’s increase in many court fees, a move Gronstal says helped finance operations of the judicial branch.

The fella from up “narth”

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has launched a political action committee (PAC), a move that’s a prelude to a 2010 presidential campaign.  

Jonathan Martin of The Politico has a story about Pawlenty’s recruitment of key political operatives like Iowa natives Terry Nelson and Sarah Taylor. Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post has a who’s who list of Pawlenty’s advisors.

Rants wants a “new second amendment”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants of Sioux City is the first to jump after today’s U.S. Supreme Court news.  Read his release below.

Rants: Time for a “2nd Amendment” to the Iowa Constitution
“With the US Supreme Court’s decision today to revisit the 2nd Amendment, its time Iowa ensure the rights of individuals to own firearms by adopting a state equivalent of the 2nd Amendment to the Iowa Constitution,” said Rep. Chris Rants, candidate for Governor from Sioux City.

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Harkin: votes are there for public option

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Cumming, Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, said today that he has the votes in the 100-member Senate to pass a health care reform bill that includes a public option.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-New Hartford, Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said this morning that he didn’t think the committee would pass a bill that includes the public option.  The Finance Committee has voted down two  attempts to include a public option in the committee’s health care reform package.

Professors say Nader helped Gore in ’00

The debate about the 2000 presidential election continues. The University of Iowa News Services has issued a news release today touting some research by a U-of-I marketing professor.  

“Many people would have come in supporting Nader but eventually voted for Gore, and that might not have happened if Nader had never entered the race,” said William Hedgcock, assistant professor of marketing at UI.

Hedgcock’s findings were recently published in the Journal of Marketing Research. His paper, “Could Ralph Nader’s Entrance and Exit Have Helped Al Gore?” was co-authored with Akshay Rao of the University of Minnesota and Haipeng Chen of Texas A&M University.

Here’s the research paper.  Its subtitle is:  “The Impact of Decoy Dynamics on Consumer Choice.”

Grassley tweets from Blairsburg

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley spoke this morning at Northeast Hamilton High School.  A better headline for this post might have been “Sen CEG @ NE Ham Hi.”  Read Grassley’s dispatch on Twitter about his experience this morning:  “Thanks Ms Keehn for invite to speak Blairsburg skool and for inviting CAL and SE Hamilton to her skool Very Good Qs. 200 student town meetin.”

Democratic legislative leaders on Film Office flap

The top four Democrats in the legislature issued a joint statement this afternoon. Read it below:

Joint Statement from Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, Senate President Jack Kibbie, House Speaker Pat Murphy, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Regarding Culver-Judge Administration’s response to Film Office controversy

“We are encouraged by the steps taken by the Governor and Lt. Governor to ensure additional accountability and scrutiny with regard to the Iowa Film Office.

“It was prudent for the Governor to announce plans today to involve Attorney General Tom Miller and State Auditor David Vaudt to ensure that every fiscal and legal avenue is pursued against anyone who may have abused this program.

“We are also reassured by their commitment to lift the suspension of the program as soon as it makes sense for responsible projects.”

D.E.D “Fact Sheet” on Film Office

Just as the Iowa Motion Picture Association and others in the film industry are holding a news conference to call to resumption of the state program that extends tax credits to movie makers, a spokesman for the Department of Economic Development emails a “fact sheet” about the program. Read D.E.D. public information officer Erin Seidler’s memo below.

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A barb directed at Branstad

Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Rants issued this news release this morning.  For context, you may recall that former Governor Terry Branstad — the Republican mulling the idea of coming out of retirement to seek a fifth term as governor — raised the state sales tax twice during his 16 year tenure.  You may have seen this weekend’s Des Moines Register Iowa Poll which showed 48 percent of those surveyed thought it was a good idea for Branstad to run.  Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post has a paragraph of analysis in his Morning Fix.

Here’s the Rants “barb” directed primarily at Branstad.

Rants issues tax challenge to gubernatorial candidates

“As Iowa’s state budget situation continues to worsen, the public deserves to know how candidates for governor intend to put it right.  The last two times state government had a significant deficit, the sales tax was raised and the list of things subject to sales tax was expanded.  That is why I challenge my fellow candidates running for governor to pledge to veto any attempt to raise the sales tax, expand its base, or redirect the school infrastructure tax into the general fund,” said Rep. Chris Rants, candidate for Governor from Sioux City.

“We should not repeat the mistakes of the past, but live within our means.  I would hope my fellow Republicans, and Governor Culver would join me in taking this pledge, but I caution them not to do so lightly.  The magnitude of budget deficit is unprecedented.  It will not be easy to balance the budget, and Iowans should expect that there will be pain.  But I believe to close the budget gap with more tax revenue will only make our economic condition worse.”

Rants initially issued his challenge this weekend at the Poweshiek County GOP Town Hall Forum, however all candidates were not present.  He will again issue the challenge this evening in Mt. Pleasant, Tuesday in Pella, and Wednesday in Ames.