economy & budget

Erolld Belegu, an advisor to Kosovo's prime minister, explains the country's incentives for Iowa businesses.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

The Republic of Kosovo is making a pitch for Iowa companies to invest in the young country’s economy. Representatives from Iowa’s sister-state in southeastern Europe were in Norwalk Wednesday to promote a program which includes 1,200 acres of land that will be parceled out to companies willing to build new operations in the country.

Håkan Dahlström/Flickr creative commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

An investigation by Iowa’s state auditor alleges a former employee of an Iowa City business group improperly spent nearly half a million dollars with a company credit card.

Kate Payne/IPR

Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack is looking into a business that’s buying up mobile home parks in the state and then jacking up monthly bills for residents. Utah-based company Havenpark Capital plans to raise rents on tenants in Iowa by as much as 60 and 70 percent.

The ongoing effects of the trade war, severe weather and low crop prices have farmers reluctant to make big purchases like tractors, combines and planters. It was apparent in the U.S. Commerce Department’s new report, which shows farm equipment sales were down $900 million dollars over the first three months of 2019.

That’s the biggest decline in sales since 2016.

Andrew Seaman via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/inthe-arena/24289742612/

A new childcare center opening in Keokuk this week will eventually offer space to 110 children. Advocates say the program is a needed step in addressing what they call a chronic shortage

Kate Payne / Iowa Public Radio

Davenport city officials are working with the Canadian Pacific Railway to plan improvements after the company raised its tracks to avoid floodwaters along the Mississippi River. The decision is raising safety and accessibility concerns as well. 

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Kim Orr / https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/tag/Women+in+STEM

Tuesday is National Equal Pay Day, a symbolic holiday marking when women’s earnings catch up to what men were paid the year before. While the gender pay gap persists in Iowa and across the country, there are steps Iowa businesses can take to counteract persistent wage disparities.

iowa wesleyan university
Kate Payne / IPR

Iowa Wesleyan University leaders say more than a dozen organizations are interested in partnering with the small, historic, private school in Mount Pleasant. Administrators are trying to build a new future, after the school nearly shut down late last year for lack of funds.

Carrie Cizauskas via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/artbandito/

Business leaders across Iowa are banding together and calling on Congress to reform the country’s immigration system. Employers, economic developers and trade organizations are organizing the effort because they say they’re facing major workforce shortages.

Kate Payne / IPR

The head of a U.S. manufacturing group highlighted the need for workers and immigration reform during a visit to Iowa.

Kate Payne / IPR

Leaders in several Johnson County communities are agreeing to collaborate on growing businesses in the region. Area mayors say they’ll work together to attract and retain companies, instead of competing for them outright. 

Reyner Media via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/89228431@N06/

A non-profit executive says the federal tax cut law is changing how some Iowans are giving to charity. 

John Pemble / IPR file

Some members of Congress aren’t on board with the Trump administration’s new trade deal with Canada and Mexico. But Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator says the president may force their vote. 

Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa’s legislative leaders say they’re not expecting to have to make mid-year budget cuts in the legislative session that gets underway in January.  But Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, says there won’t likely be a big increase in spending, either.  He told a forum at the Iowa Taxpayers Association conference in Altoona Friday that’s because of tax cuts lawmakers passed in the last session.

arileu via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/arileu/10597303795/in/photolist-h9rXdp-hbVuus

More than a third of Iowans across 457,223 households can’t afford basic expenses like housing and transportation, according to a new report from the United Way. In spite of economic recoveries since the Great Recession, many Iowans' wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living.

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

As China and the United States continue to lob threats over new import tariffs, farmers in the Midwest are already adjusting to the first shots in what could become a trade war.

China imposed new tariffs on pork this week, pressuring producers who already are barely making ends meet, and now the two countries have released lists for the next group of products each would hit if disputes over intellectual property and other issues aren't resolved.

In winter, farmers across the U.S. visit their banks to learn whether they have credit for the next growing season, relying on that borrowed money to buy seed, fertilizer and chemicals.

But prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are low enough that some producers have had a hard time turning a profit, and financial analysts expect some farmers will hear bad news: Their credit has run out.

About 16.4 million people who receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would not have a say in how to spend about half of their monthly benefits under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

Low-income Americans who receive at least $90 a month would see "about half" of their benefits come in the form of a nonperishable, American-grown “USDA Foods package,” or a "Harvest Box," according to a news release Monday from the USDA, which runs SNAP.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Now that Iowa farmers have most of their corn and soybeans out of the field and into the bins, the numbers suggest another great year for production… and another down year for prices.

Since 2014, the farm economy has been in a downturn, says Iowa State University extension economist Chad Hart. But he says most farms are muddling through.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

President Donald Trump has sent a proposed budget to Congress that includes slashing $38 billion from farm bill programs, including crop insurance and nutrition supports, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says reducing crop insurance subsidies would leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for farm damages from natural disasters.

capitol
John Pemble/IPR file photo

Governor Branstad has submitted his revised budget to the state legislature, as lawmakers move toward considering a spending plan for the next fiscal year.  IPR Statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell told Clay Masters that the governor had to revise an earlier budget proposal after the Revenue Estimating Conference met in March and said the state would take in less money than expected.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad this week submitted his revised budget for next year as required by law, and his fellow Republicans in the legislature are concerned about how little wiggle room there is in the spending plan.

Because tax receipts have faltered, Branstad reduced his 2018 spending plan by more than two percent compared to what he submitted in January, and there’s no ending balance to provide a cushion for emergencies.     

Creighton University

A monthly index of the mid-America economy is at its highest point in nearly three years. The survey of supply managers in nine states indicates solid hiring in the manufacturing sector.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index compiled by Creighton University economist Ernie Goss stands at a strong 60.5 for February. This is well above the growth neutral mark of 50. Goss says the reading for Iowa is even healthier at 62.6.

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Branstad delivered what will likely be his final Condition of the State Speech at the statehouse Tuesday, outlining plans to improve education, public safety, health care and water quality.   But he also unveiled a proposal to cut more than $100 million from this year’s state budget, which hits higher education the hardest.   Majority Republicans haven’t ruled out cutting some of the areas the governor would protect.     

The governor has never been known for his prowess as a public speaker, and he got off to a rocky start.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

With farmers coming off a third straight year of lower incomes, 2017 may require more belt-tightening for many.

Persistently low prices for major commodity crops including corn and soybeans may inch up slightly in the New Year. But farmers may find they still need to adjust their strategies to ride out the slump.

JIMMY CENTERS / OFFICE OF GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD

Some spending reductions are to be expected in the upcoming budget, according to Gov. Terry Branstad. Due to lower revenue estimates, Iowa will likely have to cut about $100 million.

Despite this challenge, Branstad says he won’t consider an across-the-board cut.

"Instead I’m going to work with the legislature and make recommendations," says Branstad at his weekly news conference today. "I want to protect K-12 school aid from reductions, and property tax credits, I don’t want to see those reduced."

Joyce Russell/IPR

State lawmakers will have the tough job of cutting this year’s state budget when they convene in January, after new projections Monday from the Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference. 

The REC predicts that tax receipts will grow by 4.2 percent in the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

That’s $96 million less than earlier estimates.    

Department of Management Director Dave Roederer says to accommodate the shortfall, the governor will be recommending how to cut this year’s budget by roughly $100 million.

file: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The Great Recession decimated the American economy more than eight years ago. And while many of America's cities have crawled back to modest economic prosperity, the rural economy has stagnated, displaying few bright spots in employment and poverty rates.

In short: rural parts of the country are still struggling.

InfoCash / Flickr

Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Venmo -- the cutting-edge payment options of today are in our pockets, if not in our wallets. Before we had technological access to our bank accounts, there was a more rudimentary barrier to jump: getting money regardless of what bank or ATM was available. 

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Airbnb, a marketplace for people to list and rent vacation homes and rooms to stay, was founded in 2008 in San Francisco. Today, there are more than a million listings in more than 30,000 cities around the country. As the service grows in popularity in the state, cities in Iowa including Clear Lake, West Des Moines, Fairfield and Coralville are looking to regulate its use.

"There is a great demand for this type of service. It was founded as a means to accommodate people during large business conventions," explains Art Durnev, a professor of finance at the University of Iowa. 

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