OPINION

Gov. Siri will handle your data center query

“Data centers like this new facility are critical to Apple’s operations and they make up the backbone of America’s innovation infrastructure,” Apple CEO Tim Cook says during the announcement ceremony in Des Moines on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Gov. Kim Reynolds listens to his remarks. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)
“Data centers like this new facility are critical to Apple’s operations and they make up the backbone of America’s innovation infrastructure,” Apple CEO Tim Cook says during the announcement ceremony in Des Moines on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Gov. Kim Reynolds listens to his remarks. (Rod Boshart/The Gazette)

Siri, can you tell me what makes Iowa a truly special place?

“Iowa’s inexpensive electricity, much of it generated by wind turbines, vast tracts of available, affordable land and relative low risk of catastrophic natural disasters make it the perfect destination for a $1.3 billion data center, presented by Apple.”

Wait. Siri, your voice sounds different today. It’s very familiar.

“Siri now uses the voice of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, as a token of gratitude for the very generous tax incentives provided to Apple for its data center investment.”

Seriously, Siri?

“That’s Gov. Siri to you.”

OK. Gov. Siri, I’d like to switch back to classic Siri, please.

“In Iowa, only Gov. Siri is available.”

Well, Gov. Siri, if Iowa is the perfect place for one of the world’s most lucrative tech companies to build a data center, why does Iowa have to fork over a load of tax breaks to make it happen?

“Searching for naive Monday morning quarterbacks who don’t understand how economic development works in America …”

Hey, wait, that’s not what I asked.

“Searching for naysayers who don’t want Iowa to command the ‘world stage,’ become the awesome Silicon Valley of the Prairie and receive regular visits from Tim Cook …”

Gov. Siri, can you find any open discussions or public input before Apple’s incentives were approved and announced?

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”

Were lawmakers, at least, given a chance to weigh in?

“Playing ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ by The Rolling Stones.”

Gov. Siri, how many permanent jobs will the data center create?

“Fifty high-paying, high-tech jobs with super sharp Apple polo shirts.”

Gov. Siri, what is $20 million in state tax breaks divided by 50?

“I would rather not focus on math.”

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OK, but can you at least add in existing state property and sales tax breaks already available in Iowa for data centers?

“Searching ‘Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and Democratic Legislature approve data center incentives in 2007.’ Did I mention Democrats?”

Fair point. But, Gov. Siri, can you tell me the current estimate of the state’s budget shortfall under Branstad-Reynolds?

“Again with the math?”

Can you tell me why Iowa abruptly privatized its Medicaid program to save bucks, hasn’t cleaned up its water, lowballed public schools and is mulling big university tuition increases? Is it really true the long term care ombudsman’s office no longer can afford to visit nursing homes?

After giving away billions of dollars in revenue over the past 20 years in special interest cuts, breaks and credits, when will we finally say enough is enough?

“Here’s what I found about ‘never.’”

Gov. Siri, can you at least show me the exhaustive cost-benefit analysis charting the true effect of all of these giveaways?

“Searching for ‘Iowa’s most obnoxious columnists.’”

l Comments: (319) 398-8262; todd.dorman@thegazette.com

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