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Give Planned Parenthood A Hand

planned parentood attack

Planned Parenthood has been one of the top six targets of the right in this country for a long time. Depending on the talking points of the day it shares the bullseye with Social Security, Medicare, the ACA, immigrants and unions. This is a list I just made up on the spot, so you can certainly take issue with this assessment. The point is that the premiere women’s health care provider in this country has had a vendetta against for a long long time.

Unless you live under a rock you have heard that Planned Parenthood has once more made it to the top of the right’s hit list. The driver behind this ascent is a very flawed “documentary” that purports to show a clinic selling fetal tissue. If you want to see it you can look it up yourselves. Of course this is pure hokum, but with a corporate owned media that leans very right this has become a story that has been given legs.

So this is a good time to show Planned Parenthood some support. Please sign this petition and let them know that we have their back. Someone you know and love may be using their services someday.

Thank You!

Sunday Funday – Sober Thought Edition

Mike Luckovich, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mike Luckovich, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Just as I went to write this I had a very sobering thought. Following Citizens United, billionaires shopped around looking for a puppet to install in the White House to do their bidding. After trying out a Newt Gingrich and a Rick Santorum, they seemed to settle on someone who was much like them in Mitt Romney.

This year they are shopping again with bushel baskets of money at the ready. But they are not finding quite the quality they had in 2012 (quit snickering I am trying to make a point here). Certain of the .0001% have just realized if they want someone like themselves, then why not themselves? It is sort of the ultimate outcome of Citizens United. Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump!

Next cycle keep an eye out for someone named Walton looking to open a store in the DC area. You heard it here first!

Were you paying attention?

1) Thursday night a gunman in Lafayette, Louisiana murdered 3 and nearly murdered 9 more during what movie?

2) One of the longest running mysteries in America began on July 30th, 1975 when who was last seen outside a restaurant in Detroit, Michigan?

3) The last bike riders should have dipped their tires in the Mississippi. What general direction does RAGBRAI always take across Iowa?

4) As the bike riders swarm Davenport that city is also celebrating native musician Bix Beiderbecke. What instrument is Beiderbecke most associated with?

5) Physicist Stephen Hawking this week announced a $100 million effort to find what?

6) Another week, another Republican runs for president. Who was it this week?

7) Whose cell phone number did Donald Trump announce on national TV?

8) The world temperatures for June are in. How does the first six months of 2015 stack up as far as heat goes?

9) Engineers have been warning about infrastructure problems in this country for decades. A bridge on I10 between what two major cities collapsed in the rain last week?

10) The Annie E. Casey Foundation said that what percentage of American children currently live in poverty?

11) A remote hack on what brand of automobiles was demonstrated last week when hackers took over control of what from 10 miles away?

12) Hackers threatened to expose customers of what web site that arranges “discreet encounters for married men?”

13) In one of the oddest stories of the week, the winner of the French Scrabble world championship was unique in that he what?

14) In Colorado an ABC television almost broadcast the first US commercial for what product until the parent company stepped in to stop it?

15) A new embassy opened for what country in Washington, DC last week?

16) And so the media flexes its muscle. Rupert Murdoch has reportedly told his Fox News executives to back off covering what politician?

17) And in California, protestors did what to try to stop the removal of trees in the Claremont Canyon in Oakland and the U of Cal campus?

18) It was a wild ride up for the stock of what online retailer Friday?

19) In a shake up at MSNBC what voice of the working man was shown the door Thursday?

20) Reaching waaaay back for a comparison, Arkansas’ goofy senator Tom Cotton compared SoS John Kerry to what biblical character?

Whoa, dude, next Saturday is August 1st. Only 6 months to the caucus. Have you chosen your candidate yet?

Answers:

1) Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck”

2) Jimmy Hoffa

3) west to east ending with the traditional tire dip in the Mississippi

4) cornet, but piano is also acceptable

5) intelligent life in our galaxy

6) John Kasich of Ohio

7) Lyndsey Graham’s

8) the hottest first half of a year ever

9) Los Angeles and Phoenix

10) 22% including 39% of AA, 37% of Native Americans and 33% of Hispanic

11) Chrysler. The hack was on one of their Jeep Cherokees

12) Ashley Madison

13) he can’t speak French

14) marijuana

15) Cuba

16) Donald Trump

17) stripped naked and hugged the trees – you don’t want to see the pictures

18) Amazon which ended up nearly $50 after being up nearly $90/share

19) Ed Schultz – he’s there for a while but the show was cancelled

20) Pontius Pilate – not sure what the similarity is

See you next week!

Fighting Back With Facts

let them know you are mad!

let them know you are mad!


Letters, we send letters. BTW, this is a good time to start sending those letters in.

Muscatine County chair Don Paulson counters the flawed arguments of Rep. Tom Sands LTTE in the Muscatine Journal. Sands argues from a trickle down perspective. In case you’re not keeping score, trickle down started under Reagan in 1981. Over the years both national and state governments have cut corporate taxes a lot, yet as of yet none has trickled down yet. Instead the savings have rushed up to the pockets of the top 1%:

That Tom Sands- what a joker! Republican State Representative Tom Sands, in his 7/18/15 letter in the Journal predicts doom and gloom if the U.S. Congress doesn’t reduce the corporate tax rate. What nonsense!
Way back in an 8/5/13 article in the Huffington Post (‘The Three Biggest Lies About Why Corporate Taxes Should Be Lowered”)
Robert Reich pointed out that:

1) After deductions and tax credits the average corporate tax rate in the U.S. is lower. According to the Congressional Research Service the United States has an effective corporate tax rate of 27.1 percent.

2) Corporations don’t need lower taxes to create jobs- they are sitting on almost $2 trillion in cash.

3) Corporations don’t need a tax break to be globally competitive- the “competitiveness” of American corporations is becoming a meaningless term because most big U.S. corporations are no longer American companies at all. The biggest have been creating way more jobs abroad than in the U.S.

We all remember Warren Buffet’s quote that his company pays a lower tax rate than his Secretary. And we have all heard of the untold billions (trillions?) that corporations are hoarding in tax havens like the Cayman Islands.

If corporations are people, my friend, then they need to step up and start paying their fair share in taxes and raise wages for their workers. The American economy is driven by consumer spending. It can’t move forward when American worker’s incomes are stagnant or declining while 99% of the wealth being generated goes to the !% of the wealthiest among us.

Thank you for fighting the myths with the facts, Don

ALEC Meets In San Diego

alec-exposed-in-iowa-14-638

While Iowans were enjoying excellent summer weather this week, the corporations were handing marching orders to the various state legislators who owe them fealty above the fealty they show to their various states. Yep, ALEC had a meeting in San Diego last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Whether any representatives were there from Iowa is immaterial. They will get their marching orders sent back to them either way. With long time Republican legislative leaders such as Linda Upmeyer and Ways and Means chair Tom Sands heading up Iowa’s ALEC legislative group, you can bet that Republican members of Iowa’s legislature will be working hard to put in the ALEC agenda.

For those new to the blog world, ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a corporate run lobbying group that essentially writes corporate friendly laws that legislative members then take back to their respective states to push for passage. Laws are not written to address specific problems in specific states, but rather to push a very corporate friendly agenda across the country state by state. If conditions within a state are not calling for the ALEC legislation, the strategy is to then create the conditions that will make the ALEC preferred legislation appear to be the answer.

In other words ignore what the state needs and work to make the conditions favorable to the corporate written ALEC solution.

A good example is the national push to privatize the public schools in this country, state by state. Since our public schools were generally fairly good the first strategy is to create the conditions that would call for a change in the current way that public schools are operated. So schools needed to be throttled back. One of the best ways to achieve this is to cut state spending on schools. One of the best reasons for cutting spending on schools is lack of tax revenue. One of the best ways to cut tax revenue is to cut taxes. Taxes that sound good to cut are business taxes. Thus a state can claim they are trying to bring jobs and business to the state by cutting taxes.

Another good way to make schools seem like they are not achieving desired results is to create standards that are hard to achieve and based on some arbitrary testing scores. Tying state and federal funding to arbitrary testing will force schools to focus on teaching for the testing and abandon their former goals. Since success is hard to achieve based on goals set by legislators, many schools suddenly begin to look like failures.

One more good way to create conditions that call for an ALEC solution is high teacher to student ratios. Easy to understand that each student gets less attention when they are 1 of 30 competing voices than when they are one of 15 or 20. When school funding is cut for whatever reason, administrators are forced to make decisions to cut the curriculum, raise teacher to student ratios,  or keep out of date text books. Slowly conditions in even the best of schools can get edgy as all these strategies nip at the very foundations of good schools.

Schools can survive such assaults for a period of time, but after a while they take their toll. We seem to be in the middle of an assault on schools in Iowa. Many Iowans were surprised and appalled by Branstad’s line item veto of the 55 million one time funding to schools. A few of us thought it was right in line with the slow squeezing of schools to make the push to move to privatization in a few years much more palatable. Did I mention that Gov. Branstad was one of the founders of ALEC?

Schools are just one of the many fronts that ALEC is leading the assault on. Union busting laws, stand your ground laws, anti-food labeling laws, laws that squash local ordinances on controlling oil and gas fracking drilling. The list is a long one. The very saddest aspect of the whole ALEC fiasco is that constituents elect folks like Upmeyer and Sands to represent them when in truth these folks and others like them around the country are really working for ALEC and helping create the conditions that will help make the ALEC agenda a reality.

ALEC meetings are behind closed doors and off limits to the press. That seems to be counter to open meeting laws since legislators are involved. When a reporter in Georgia tried to get into a meeting between Georgia legislators and ALEC he was thrown out.

Americans deserve to know what is driving their legislators and what the stories are that are truly behind laws passed in Des Moines and other state capitols.

Outside Looking In

atheist billboard

Last weekend in Ames, the group known as the Family Leader – a Christian organization – held a meeting in Ames during which Republican candidates for president came before the judging eyes of those assembled to tell why they, the candidate, lined up best with the views of the Family Leader. That of course being Christian and lining up with the narrow views of what a family should look like.

Outside the CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames was a band of atheists letting those in attendance that Christianity is not the only religion of Iowans

As they arrived at an all-day cattle call of conservative presidential hopefuls, Christian conservatives were greeted by demonstrators from the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers who sought to convince Republicans that the party’s rhetoric was pushing atheists away as voters.

“They’re telling me they don’t want me in their party,” said John Fruetel, of Newton, who was part of a protest outside Stephens Auditorium in Ames, where more than 2,500 people were arriving to hear from 2016 GOP candidates at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit. Fruetel said he identifies as a conservative on many issues except social ones.

Thus the party that claims to be the party of “family values” was once more blatantly pushing away a large group of Iowa voters some of whom may share some of their values because the atheists are not part of the Republicans narrow view of what a “family” should look like. They are just one of any number of groups that are good citizens and who are part of families that do not conform to the narrow confines of Republican ideals.

A recent survey released in May shocked much of the country with the revelation that Americans by the droves are turning away from religion in general and the organized religion in particular. The survey revealed that some 22.8% of Americans now claim no religious affiliation. That is nearly a quarter. If you figure there are approximately 250 million adults of voting age and requirements, then potentially excluding a quarter of those voters – or @ 60 million – from your voter pool seems like a risky choice.

Certainly all 22.8% of the non-affiliated are not atheists or agnostics. Atheists and agnostics now make up @ 7% of the population and are growing fast. However they and the others that make up the non-affiliated group are not the type of voter the Republicans are trying to attract. So when the Republican Party talks about “family values” they start from the premise of a specific model of family.

Late last year Pew Research released a study that the so-called traditional family is now in the minority in America. No doubt that number is even higher if you add in the requirement that the family must also be Christian.

So what kinds of families are we talking about and what is the Republican approach to them?

We can start with families with a single parent, most likely female, at the head. This family may nave come about because of divorce or perhaps there never was a marriage. These are families that are quite likely poor if not in poverty for many reasons including low pay and unequal pay for women, which are often due to Republican policies. Republicans traditional answer to this is to bring a male into the household, as if that could be done with a snap of the fingers.

Another family that does not fit the model but is becoming more and more prevalent is the gay family. As marriage equality really takes hold we can expect these families to grow. Republicans have treated such families with outright hostility in the past. Their party has worked overtime and more to create laws to stop gay marriage. The traditional churches have worked hard to create a caustic environment for such families to let them know they are not welcome in certain communities.

Those are probably the most prominent of the non-traditional types of families. Other types of such families include common law marriages and those with more than two generations under one roof. If you throw in non-Christian homes in this country that really raises the number.

So the party of “family values” only works for those who fit their model of family. Republicans have shown outright hostility to some of those whose family falls outside of their norms. Yet many of those in non-traditional families will vote for those who work to cripple their family. We always wonder why, but groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans continue to exist even when they are told they are not wanted.

While Republican family values center around religion and the model traditional family that forces people to fit their mold, the Democratic party accepts people for what they are and focus on policies that will help the family to survive and hopefully thrive no matter what the makeup of the family is. Policies such as equality of pay for women, higher minimum wages, pay for hours worked in the economic realm. Access to good schools that are adequately funded and staffed with well-trained licensed teachers, access to college for all that is either free of very affordable in the education area. In the health care area, Democrats continue to push for single payer for all that would expand coverage while greatly lessening the costs. Don’t forget that Democrats are the party for Grandma and Grandpa also. Social Security and Medicare, which are under constant threat from Republicans, help the elderly live lives of dignity in their latter years.

Democrats are inclusive and fit their policies to the needs of the majority of Americans. Republicans are exclusive and have a mold that folks must fit to be one of them.

Lawmakers Call for Special Session on School Funding

kirsten marquard

From Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquard

On July 2nd, Governor Branstad vetoed $56 million in urgently needed school funding. The money was approved by lawmakers in a compromise during the 2015 legislative session.

kirsten's petition

In an effort to restore school funding, I and other lawmakers are calling for a special session of the Iowa Legislature to overturn the veto. For a special session to occur, two-thirds of Iowa lawmakers (67 in the House/34 in the Senate) must formally request one. Above is my official petition.

Iowa school leaders say the result of the $56 million veto will be larger class sizes, fewer teachers, and higher property taxes. A petition from Iowans to lawmakers calling for a special session was also launched last week and has already gathered over 5,000 signatures. Anyone interested in signing the petition can go here.

The state just ended the fiscal year on the June 30th with a 6% increase in revenues and collected a record $8 billion for the first time in Iowa history. Over the last five years, school funding has slipped to about 1.85% annually, including one year when the Republican party and Governor Branstad left schools with zero. That’s compared to average increases of about 6% in the 1980’s to 4% in the 90’s.

Separately here is an analysis from Iowa Policy Project:

Some folks may buy into Gov. Branstad’s line about spending “one time money” as a solid reason for a line item veto. But as often happens, Republican “logic” falls apart under scrutiny. Mike Owen of Iowa Policy Project provides just such scrutiny:

Set aside for a moment that it can be quite sensible to use one-time funds for ongoing expenses. It depends on the circumstances. Set aside the fact that Iowa revenues and projections are strong and that state money seems to be available on an ongoing basis for corporate subsidies if not for restoring repeated shortfalls in education funding.

In the case at hand, the Governor vetoed one-time funds — for public schools, community colleges and the three regents universities — that ironically would have been spent in line with his own stated concern. The $55.7 million in one-time funds for local schools and area education agencies would have supplemented regular funding, set at 1.25 percent growth per pupil, all part of a package negotiated by the split-control Legislature.

Here’s the oft-stated concern about one-time funds, in a nutshell: You don’t spend one-time money on things that commit you to the same or greater spending in the future, because you don’t know whether the funds will be there later on.

For K-12 schools, the legislation specifies that funds “are intended to supplement, not supplant, existing school district funding for instructional expenditures.” It goes on to define “instructional expenditures” in such a way that assures the funds are for one-time uses that carry no additional commitment beyond the FY2016 budget year.

So, you can add to one-time expenses that you would have had to leave out, for purposes such as textbooks, library books, other instructional materials, transportation costs or educational initiatives to increase academic achievement. You can’t plan on having the same funds available in the following budget year.

For community colleges and the regents, each section of the bill included this stipulation: “Moneys appropriated in this section shall be used for purposes of nonrecurring expenses and not for operational purposes or ongoing expenses. For purposes of this section, ‘operational purposes’ means salary, support, administrative expenses, or other personnel-related costs.”

With or without the one-time funds that would have helped school districts, the legislative compromise ensures the continued erosion of the basic building block for school budgets, the per-pupil cost.

For the last six budget years, per-pupil budget growth has been above 2 percent only once. Once it was zero, and schools for the coming year are at 1.25 percent. This does not come close to meeting the costs of education at the same level year after year.

150602-AG-history
Supplemental State Aid (formerly termed “allowable growth) defines the percentage growth in the cost per pupil used to determine local school district budgets, which are based on enrollment. For FY2016, the Legislature and Governor have set the growth figure at 1.25 percent. Though state law requires this figure to be set about 16 months before the start of the fiscal year, the issue was not resolved until last week, when the Governor signed the legislation, and the fiscal year had already begun. The Senate passed 4 percent growth for FY2017 and the House 2 percent, but no compromise emerged and that remains unsettled. The education funding vetoed last week by the Governor affects separate one-time spending that would not have affected future budgets.

Sunday Funday: Disease Infects Clown Bus

May have to be quarantined

May have to be quarantined

The clown bus traveling to and from Ames had to stop several times to be disinfected. It seems a very virulent virus has infected the bus that is being used for a comedy act known as “The Republican Presidential Candidates Over-The-Top Clown Tour.” The virus is known simply as the Donald. The Donald has in recent weeks really bit the clown known as JEB! in the butt several times wreaking havoc on JEB!’s ability to think and speak. The Donald bug has also bitten clowns Marco and Randy. It has also caused havoc with the drivers and organizers of the tour to the point that about all anyone can talk about is the Donald.

artist's rendering of virus (photo from dailykos.com)

artist’s rendering of virus
(photo from dailykos.com)

There is concern that if the Donald is allowed to live until August 6th, it may get out of its container and infect the general public.

Please exercise caution if you see this virus.

Hey time to see if you were paying attention

1) The New Horizon probe flew by Pluto this week giving earthlings a sense of pride. When was New Horizon launched?

2) What Iowa congressman is pushing a House resolution that states may “refuse to recognize or license same sex marriages?”

3) July 19th & 20th, 1848 a very important meeting was held at Seneca Falls, NY to discuss what issue?

4) In a speech Monday candidate Hillary Clinton said she would work to change the tax code to encourage what method of rewarding employees easier?

5) Former Rep. Michael Griffin (R-NY) was sentenced Friday to 8 months in prison for what offense?

6) For the first time, coal was not the major source of electricity in the US. What replaced coal as the major source of electricity?

7) Three officials of what association were removed for their part in helping with interrogations using torture?

8) Well, Republicans sort of got their wish. Where was President Obama Thursday?

9) Huffington Post decided that whose presidential campaign fit better in their entertainment section instead of their political section?

10) AFSCME and 20 legislators filed suit against Gov. Branstad over what issue?

11) RAGBRAI kicked off in Sioux City this morning. Can you remember the two DM Register columnists that started this annual event as a kind of challenge between themselves?

12) After being called a dwarf, did this put on a little girth. What is 50 miles larger than previously believed?

13) NOAA reported last week that a what is expected to continue throughout next winter and early sprain in North America?

14) The Iran deal was announced late last week. Up to now which Republicans have endorsed it?

15) What family is out of work after cable channel TLC cancelled their show last week?

16) July 15th came and went in Texas without incident despite fear that what was going to happen?

17) Iowa’s DOT is reminding motorists to check for what before they leave their cars during this hot summer?

18) While Greece’s financial difficulties grab headlines, what major governmental bankruptcy is looming in the US?

19) German Chancellor Angela Merkl got really bad press last week when she responded negatively on national TV to a young girl’s plea to do what?

20) At 94 years old Oscar Groening has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for his role as an accountant at what prison in WWII?

BTW normal disinfectants only make the Donald virus begin to shout how great it is.

Answers:

1) January 15, 2006

2) Steve ‘cantaloupe calves’ King

3) women’s rights

4) profit sharing plans

5) Tax fraud. The threat to kill a reporter wasn’t tried.

6) Natural gas

7) American Psychiatric Association

8) El Reno prison in Oklahoma. Just visiting, though.

9) Donald Trump

10) closing of mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant

11) Donald Kaul and John Karras

12) Pluto

13) an El Nino – winter may be warmer.

14) None that I have heard of.

15) the Duggars

16) military Operation Jade Helm would be a cover for a takeover of Texas by the Obama administration. (quit laughing)

17) Check to make sure you didn’t leave your baby in the hot car.

18) Puerto Rico

19) The girl was a Palestinian refugee and she wanted to stay in Germany to attend college.

20) Auschwitz.

Study: Cannabis can help treat bone fractures

medical marijuanaOne of the real mysteries to many Americans is how our country can turn a blind eye to a plant that has been shown that it could help solve some major problems from agriculture to construction to medicine.

The ban on use of products from cannabis plants is particularly baffling in the medical area. Based on some myths that came into popular lore in the first half of the last century, laws were created that all but banned research on medicinal uses for cannabis in the US. Other countries are throwing off their self imposed shackles of fear and are studying what applications there could be for cannabis derived medicines.

Cannabis derived medicines have been shown to have real promise in helping control seizures in children which can be life saving. This is one place where the Iowa legislature to their pride legalized use of the medication yet to their unending shame refused to legalize ownership of the medicine.

Just a short list of some of the medical conditions that cannabis medications can treat:
glaucoma
arthritis
stop cancer from spreading
epilepsy
decreases anxiety
slows the effects of Alzheimer’s
Crohn’s disease

As I said, that is just a short list. A lengthier list with some discussion can be found here. Just the other day a new study was released that that showed that marijuana products rich cannabidiol oil sped up the healing of bone fractures. Imagine what that could mean for older folks who just broke a hip or a leg. In a story in the SFGATE Oscar Pascual summarizes the findings of a study done at Hebrew University in Jerusalem:

“CBD markedly enhanced the biomechanical properties of the healing femora after 8 weeks,” researchers reported.

Researchers also evaluated the administration of both CBD and THC, but did not find it to be more advantageous than CBD by itself.

“CBD alone is sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing. … Multiple experimental and clinical trials have portrayed CBD as a safe agent suggesting further studies in humans to assess its usefulness for improving fracture healing,” the study concluded.

CBD-rich cannabis could prove beneficial for bones as well as joints, as patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are now reportedly using medical marijuana for pain relief.

So once again we appeal to those in congress and in legislatures throughout the country to stop this insane war on the cannabis plant. Let Americans use applications derived from the cannabis plant to enrich our lives through medicines, agricultural (especially needed in mono-cultural Iowa) and industrial uses.

Let me remind you that those who form the biggest lobbies against cannabis tell us quite a story about why it remains illegal and un researched in the US:

the pharmaceutical industry – cannabis may be able to displace billion dollar drugs
the alcohol industry – pretty obvious I would say
the police union
private prison corporations
prison guard unions.

Way beyond time to throw off the shackles of ignorance, Iowa and America.

Real Solutions Or Fear And Hate?

On their way to Ames today

On their way to Ames today

Yesterday and today will be offering a dramatic contrast of the differences between what the Democratic Party stands for and what the Republican Party stands for.

Last night in Cedar Rapids, Democrats met for their annual Hall of Fame dinner. Speakers for the evening were the declared Democratic candidates for president – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee. The general focus of remarks last night were to bring back the middle class for every group in America and reestablish a country that works for all of its citizens, not just the wealthy and well connected. In short, the focus was on putting the citizens back in charge of this country.

Other issues included climate change, student debt, access to education for all, building an economy that works for all including living wages for workers, sensible immigration solutions and many others. The focus was on issues, not personalities or rumors or made up media hype.

Half a day later and 100 miles to the west in Ames we will be seeing Republicans gathering under the auspices of a quasi-Christian group known as the FAMiLY Leader. The focus of this conference is to push the theme that America is Christian and should be run by a set of principles based on their interpretation of Christianity.

Today we will see such Republican presidential candidates as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz pander to folks who share the Family Leaders’ version of Christianity. In that version, gays are hated and of course the idea that a gay person could marry is anathema to them. Immigrants and immigration policy will be also be in for major criticism. Policies that will come in for praise are those policies that will enrich the already wealthy while continuing low wages and no benefits for the poor and middle class. No doubt there will be veiled references to Muslims being terrorists through comments on the middle east or the new deal with Iran.

Climate change will certainly come in for derision as will science in general. Shoot, I almost wouldn’t even be surprised if someone joked that the Pluto mission was staged in a back lot in Hollywood. The only science that counts for them is that which can be exploited for a buck.

At a time when serious consideration is needed concerning the deal with Iran, Republican will use it as a cornerstone around which to build fear. There will be no sensible discussion as each of the presidential candidates tries to stake out the furthest right position.

No doubt there will also be attacks on Democratic candidates, most likely Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. There will also be attacks on Planned Parenthood which has recently been the subject of another bogus right wing “documentary.” In short, the hate will flow with no real issues discussed nor any solutions offered.

Within one day the contrast between what have become polar opposites should be quite apparent to any American. Do you want solutions? Or do you want more hate and fear?

The Courtney Report: School Funding And Mental Health Vetos

Courtney Report

We haven’t had a Courtney Report for a while. This one is particularly timely since it concerns the Governor’s ill advised line item veto of of part of the school funding.

This is an excerpt of the Courtney Report. To view the whole report please go here.

SPECIAL SESSION NEEDED TO PROTECT MIDDLE-CLASS IOWANS

This year, Senate Democrats fought long and hard for education, health care, jobs and public safety initiatives that will strengthen Iowa’s middle class. We hoped to accomplish much more, but after five months of negotiating, we opted for compromise over gridlock.

Unfortunately, Governor Branstad ignored many key bipartisan compromises, vetoing them just minutes before the start of the Fourth of July holiday. His vetoes will hit Iowa students, workers and families particularly hard by:

• Jeopardizing quality at our K-12 schools.

• Ending a tuition freeze at our state universities.

• Making our community colleges more expensive.

• Eliminating treatment options for families coping with severe mental health issues.

Strengthening Iowa’s middle class depends on smart investments in the economy, education and health care. Given Iowa’s strong fiscal outlook, the Governor’s vetoes make no sense to a majority of Iowans.

While state revenue growth is strong, we continue to budget according to the most conservative projections of the state’s nonpartisan revenue estimating panel. Republican and Democratic legislators worked in a bipartisan way to avoid using one-time money for ongoing needs, and our budget ultimately spent less than the Governor’s did.

There is bipartisan support for a special session of the Legislature to override the worst of the Governor’s vetoes. Two-thirds of Senators and Representatives must sign a petition to initiate a special session. Republicans worked with us on this year’s final budget agreement, so I am hopeful that they will agree to patching some of the holes left by the Governor.

If you believe schoolchildren, college students and Iowans needing mental health treatment deserve better, make your voice heard. We must continue fighting together for Iowa’s future.


EDUCATION VETO IS BAD FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH

The Governor’s veto of funding for our schools, community colleges and state universities will result in higher tuition, more kids in classrooms and fewer educational opportunities for students.

Iowa’s improving economy makes it possible to do more for our students and schools. The state has a billion dollars in savings, but as support for our public schools has become divided along party lines, Iowa’s investment has dropped to $1,600 less per student than the national average.

I was proud during the 2015 session to join bipartisan efforts to boost student achievement and keep college affordable for working families. Legislators negotiated for months on K-12 funding before reaching a compromise that provided an additional $56 million for our schools this fall.

Governor Branstad’s veto of that funding means districts will receive a 1.25 percent increase over last year. That’s not enough to keep up with inflation, let alone make up for several lean years since the recession. Such a meager increase has already resulted in more than 1,000 pink slips for Iowa teachers.

When our students graduate from high school, opportunities for college and job training should be as affordable as possible. Taking on massive debt is another roadblock to achieving success, to strengthening our middle class and to growing our economy.

We had hoped to freeze tuition for resident undergrads at our state universities for a record third straight year. The Legislature also provided funding to keep tuition costs down at our 15 community colleges, the first place many Iowans go for job training, college credit and continuing education. The Governor’s veto means students likely will see a bigger tuition increase during the upcoming school year.

We can invest in education at all levels and balance the budget responsibly. Educational opportunity is key to Iowans economic growth, and economic opportunity is directly related to education funding. It creates a positive cycle that helps our state attract businesses and jobs—the types that will strengthen Iowa’s middle class.

VETO OF MHI FUNDING HURTS VULNERABLE IOWANS

As part of ongoing efforts to improve mental health services, we voted this year to make it easier for Iowans to receive mental health and substance abuse treatment closer to home. This included a bipartisan plan to keep all four of Iowa’s mental health institutes (MHIs) operating.

Republican and Democratic legislators reached an agreement to keep the Mount Pleasant MHI open and to seek a private provider to run the Clarinda facility. Yet Governor Branstad refused to acknowledge the will of Republican and Democratic legislators – as well as the majority of Iowans — when he vetoed the funding we provided.

These facilities have offered critical services, including special psychiatric treatment for seniors and inpatient help for dual mental health and substance use disorders. With the facilities now closed, family members must drive hours to attend to loved ones housed in other parts of the state; sheriffs have to transport patients great distances instead of attending to issues in their communities; and hospital emergency rooms could fill up even faster than they have in the past.

The Governor justifies his veto of funding for the two MHIs by saying they are outdated. However, former patients and staff describe the facilities as modern, efficient operations that provide services not always available in other locations.

In addition, health service providers, public safety officers, religious leaders and advocates have been critical of the Governor closing Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Iowans rallied to demonstrate widespread community and statewide support for the MHIs, which provide skilled, caring staff to help people who have nowhere else to turn.

Public safety and medical professionals say Iowa has a mental health crisis. That crisis may get worse now that more than 80 employs have received layoff notices effective June 30 and the doors have closed at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda.