Coalition of local workers and businesses say ‘swaps’ are bad for Quad Cities

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- A coalition of workers, businesses, faith, and local leaders say an Iowa DOT program to replace federal dollars for construction projects with state money is bad for Quad Cities taxpayers and communities. They are urging local mayors to reject the program and opt out.

The Iowa Department of Transporation put the Federal-Aid Swap program in place in 2018.

Opponents at a press conference today in Bettendorf say federal dollars earmarked for construction projects typically include provisions that protect local workers, like requirements for made-in-America materials, liveable wages, environmental standards and diversity in contracting.

Under Iowa DOT’s Federal Aid Swap program, local municipalities can swap out those federal funds for state dollars, which don’t have such requirements.

Michelle DeCap, Chief Financial Officer of the Phoenix Corporation of the Quad Cities, and a member of the Associated Contractors of the Quad Cities, said the swap allows outside contractors to underbid local companies.

"[The program] entices contractors outside of the Quad cities to come into our region and perform work in our community that is paid for by your tax dollars. When this happens, these outside contractors bring their own employees. My employees, your employees, your neighbors, these people behind me will sit at home and be unemployed," she said.

"The Federal Aid Swap initiative removes the disadvantaged business enterprise requirements which discourage diversity for minority and women-owned busiensses," exarcerbating lower wages and inequality in government contracting practices disparity, she added.

The coalition says the funding swap could put $3.5 million dollars in economic impact at risk, including two road projects planned in Davenport and one in Bettendorf.

Opponents are urging Quad Citians to call their city leaders and urge the policy committee Quad Cities Metropolitan Planning Organization to opt out of the Federal-Aid Swap program.

The vote on the program could come as early May 28. The committee meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month and is comprised of 14 voting members and three ex-officio members.

Opponents of Federal Aid Swap include: Associated Contractors of the Quad Cities, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Tri-City Building Trades Council, Quad Cities Interfaith, Scott County Democratic Party, Great River Labor Federation, Midwest Economic Policy Institute, National Association of Women in Construction, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Council 10, along with a number of individual federal, state and local elected officials.

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