One of the biggest concerns I have with the federal government is the amount of debt we are accumulating. The federal government is over $17 trillion in debt, and just this week, Congress voted to extend the debt limit ceiling until March of 2015. This could drive the debt to as high as $19 trillion. The 2013 federal deficit added almost $680 billion to the federal debt. In short, it is out of control.
One of the reasons I ran for office in 2011 was that I was concerned that the problems with our federal government were starting to appear in our state government. Our spending was out of control. Governor Culver had just passed the I-Jobs program, his $1.7 billion answer to our economic struggles. This program was funded entirely with debt, which requires the State of Iowa to pay back $55 million per year for 30 years! Of the $1.7 billion, about $760 million is interest, meaning there was little to no long-term benefit.
At the end of the 2013 legislative session, Republicans and Democrats agreed that we should begin to pay down our debt. We compromised on a bill to pay down $116 million worth of debt, with much of this amount going to pay down the I-Jobs debt. I am proud to have supported paying off our debt with our excess revenue.
Currently we still have $939.4 million state issued debt. If you count interest payments, we still owe over $1.5 billion in total state debt. Of this amount, $703.4 million, or $1.2 billion counting interest, is from the I-Jobs stimulus program signed by Governor Culver in 2009. Unfortunately, most of this I-Jobs debt is arranged so that we cannot pay it off early. I believe we should continue to look for ways to improve our fiscal stability, including paying down as much debt as possible. The bill to pay down $116 million last year was a great start, and I will continue to search for more opportunities to pay down our debt going forward.