As a member of the State Government Committee, I participated in a meeting with Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. We wanted to know how three valid Iowa ballots in the 2012 election ended up not being counted. What we’ve learned so far tells me that we have some work to do to prevent this type of voter disenfranchisement from happening again.
ENSURING EVERY ELIGIBLE VOTER’S BALLOT COUNTS
Iowans expect our elections to be secure, accurate and efficient. After all, our democracy is based on citizens making their voices heard.
That’s why it came as a big disappointment when the Cerro Gordo County Auditor brought to our attention that the 2012 general election ballots of three voters in his county had had been wrongly thrown out because of inaccurate information provided by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. The auditor told us that these individuals had had their voting rights restored and that their votes should have counted.
If three voters in one county could be disenfranchised, how many individuals could this happen to statewide? It is the Legislature’s responsibility to make sure that Secretary of State Matt Schultz, as the state commissioner of elections, does a better job of ensuring that the ballots of all eligible voters are counted.
Iowans are proud of their high levels of voter participation, so it is of utmost importance that we take measures to protect the integrity of our system. In recent years, Iowa has made many improvements to our voting process, including allowing voters to register on Election Day at the polls. As a result, Iowa ranked fifth in voter turnout in the 2012 General Election with 73.3 percent of registered voters casting their ballot.
SENATE VOTES TO BOOST INVESTMENT IN LOCAL SCHOOLS
Iowa educators tell us that predictable, sustained state investment in education is the most effective way to increase student achievement.
That’s why I voted this week for a 6 percent increase in local school funding for the 2015-16 school year (SF 2079 and SF 2077). This money would pay for the basics: up-to-date textbooks, heating bills, teacher salaries and gas for the buses. We also approved additional state dollars to prevent any related property tax increase (SF 2078).
Developing the state budget is the one thing I am required to do in my job as a state senator, and the largest part of that budget goes to education. State law requires us to set school funding 18 months ahead of the academic year so that school boards, administrators and educators can plan for local needs and make the best use of state resources.
A 6 percent increase would be welcome news for our local schools. It would help them bounce back from several lean years while also implementing the education reforms we approved in 2013. Since 2011, school funding in Iowa has suffered. As a result, our state has fallen to 37th in the nation when it comes to per pupil spending. Iowa is more than $1,500 below the national average in terms of how much we invest in each student.
However, we have the money to reverse this trend. Our reserve accounts are full at more than $650 million, and we have a surplus of $842 million. The major U.S. financial rating agencies all give Iowa the highest rating of AAA. Only seven other states match us with an across-the-board AAA rating.
Now is the time to invest wisely in student achievement. If the House and Governor also approve the legislation we passed in the Senate, here’s how much our local school districts will get for the 2015-16 school year:
(editor’s note: I could not get the table to transfer to this format. Here are a couple of examples:
School District FY 2016 (estimate) Change from FY 2015 (estimate)
Muscatine $48,896,010 $2,567,231
Burlington $43,736,443 $2,374,987
West Liberty $11,076,032 $813,624
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT DEPENDS ON TIMELY ACTION
With this week’s vote on school funding, the Senate obeyed state law requiring the Legislature to set education funding 18 months in advance of the school year. I hope the House and Governor will follow our lead. We must put politics aside, follow the law and support the students who are the future of a strong state economy.
The Legislature is expected to set school funding within 30 days after the Governor presents his state budget. For the 2014 session, the deadline is February 13.
Iowa superintendents overwhelmingly believe state lawmakers should meet that deadline and set funding for the 2015-16 school year, as the law requires. In a recent survey, 98 percent of the 214 superintendents who responded oppose the House and Governor’s plan to wait until next year to decide on funding.
In recent years, the House and Governor have defied the advance budgeting law, allowing K-12 education funding to become entangled with other issues and even held hostage for reasons unrelated to students or schools. The message we’re hearing from superintendents this year is clear: Don’t delay school funding again! Nearly every superintendent (99 percent) we surveyed said education dollars would be used more effectively if lawmakers followed the law and set school funding well in advance.
We’ve made some big changes with recent education reforms. Now we must provide financial stability so schools can successfully enact those changes and make sure all Iowa kids graduate with the skills to land a good job. Asked how they would use our proposed 6 percent increase in basic school funding, school superintendents said strengthening reading and writing skills in elementary students, implementing Iowa’s common core curriculum and reducing class sizes are their top priorities.
For more on our survey of Iowa school superintendents and what they had to say about school funding, go to http://bit.ly/1irPiuQ.
EXCELLENCE IN MENTORING
I met Andrea Scott and congratulated her on the Excellence in Mentoring award from the State of Iowa. This award is the most prestigious honor that mentors in Iowa can receive. Andrea began as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County in 2008. She and her little sister, Zayla, joined us for Mentoring Day on the Hill. Big Brothers Big Sisters matches youth at risk with a “Big” who can have a positive impact on their “Little.”
HIGH-SPEED INTERNET IS ECONOMIC ENGINE
In an effort to help more Iowa employers and workers recover from the national recession, we must increase access to high-quality Internet services across the state.
Iowa ranks 11th out of 12 Midwestern states in the TechNet State Broadband Index, which ranks states based on how many households use broadband, network speeds and the number of jobs that benefit from broadband technology.
Broadband is currently underused in Iowa. According to a survey from Connect Iowa, 71 percent of Iowa households have adopted broadband, but only 47 percent can access broadband at high speed (50 Mbps). Broadband is used even less by low-income families, rural households and senior citizens. Among Iowa businesses, about 23,000 are not using high-speed Internet services.
Broadband can be a powerful economic tool for Iowans and businesses. Better broadband access, particularly in rural areas, could spur economic development through job creation and business expansion.
That’s why legislators in the House and Senate are looking at ways to improve access broadband in Iowa. Under a Senate proposal, companies could get tax breaks if they invest in broadband infrastructure. The bill also would establish a loan fund for businesses making broadband investments.
In September, Governor Branstad announced a new broadband initiative, Connect Every Iowan. A task force made up of stakeholders and legislators met to discuss broadband connectivity issues, as well as how we can increase access to and use of broadband throughout Iowa. To view the task force’s report and learn more about Iowa’s work to expand broadband, go https://broadband.iowa.gov.
EMERGENCY HEATING FUNDS WILL HELP STRUGGLING FAMILIES
The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved additional help for low-income Iowans struggling to pay their home heating bills during this exceptionally cold winter.
SSB 3137 would provide $2 million to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps offset heating costs for low-income families. The additional money will help address emergencies, including fixing broken furnaces and carrying out emergency fuel deliveries for families in need.
Last year, LIHEAP assisted more than 85,000 Iowa households. As of December, more than 60,000 households had already received assistance through LIHEAP this fiscal year. About 10 percent of LIHEAP recipients depend on propane to heat their homes, with 150 gallons of propane lasting about two weeks in January.
The supplemental assistance approved in the state senate is due to the spike in propane fuel costs. Throughout Iowa, propane is three to four times the usual price, reaching more than $6 per gallon in parts of Iowa. Usually, propane is about $1.79 a gallon.
The federal government is also responding to the need. The U.S. Department of Human & Health Services released a second LIHEAP appropriation of close to $7.5 million to help Iowa families heat their homes during this cold weather.
Iowans with questions or concerns should check out the state’s new Propane Shortage and Heating Assistance Webpage. It has detailed information about LIHEAP, energy and cost-saving tips, safe heating alternatives and other resources.
EARLY HELP PREPARES KIDS TO SUCCEED IN SCHOOL & LIFE
During the first five years of life, children begin to gain the emotional and social skills that enable them to thrive in school and in life. These skills form the foundation for “healthy mental development,” the ability of children to regulate and express emotions, form relationships with others, and explore and learn in their surroundings.
Without a solid foundation of healthy mental development early in life, children are at higher risk for poor school performance, juvenile delinquency and adult mental health concerns later in life.
Iowa’s 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative is a public-private partnership that brings together physicians and public service providers to promote healthy mental development among Iowa’s children from birth to age five. The initiative encourages pediatricians and primary care providers to use proven tools to gauge a child’s progress during well-child visits. At-risk kids can then get the help they need, when local children’s health agencies and early intervention services assist the family in optimizing their children’s mental development.
The Health & Human Services Budget Committee learned this week about last year’s efforts to expand this program from 33 to 49 counties. With continued support of the 1st Five Initiative, we can ensure that all Iowa children begin life with a good chance to achieve school readiness, academic success and overall well-being.
Between 2007 and 2012, health care providers referred close to 5,000 families to 1st Five. In that time, the program helped an estimated 77,000 children. Getting more health providers involved is key. About 93 percent of health providers include comprehensive developmental assessments in their well-child appointments after becoming involved in 1st Five.
Learn more about how 1st Five is helping Iowa kids and families at www.idph.state.ia.us/1stfive.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Protect land with REAP grants
More than $200,000 in cost-share grants is available to help conservation organizations acquire land for additional outdoor recreation opportunities and to protect critical habitat. Recent projects include additions to Pine Lake State Park, Pictured Rocks Wildlife Management Area and the Loess Hills Wildlife Area.
Through the cost-share arrangement, 75 percent of the acquisition costs come from Resource Enhancement and Protection, and the remaining 25 percent comes from private contributions. The Department of Natural Resources owns and manages the property that is jointly purchased on behalf of the public.
For an application and complete details, go to www.iowareap.com and click on “REAP Grants” in the left column. Applications are due March 14.
How much should students borrow for college?
Iowa Student Loan wants to help students avoid excessive debt by educating them about the risks of over-borrowing and how to reduce the need to borrow. At the Iowa Student Loan website, students can learn about their return on college investment.
The ROCI (Return on College Investment) Reality Check is an online tutorial that allows students to compare various types of jobs, their associated starting salaries and the future demand and probability they’ll get the job. It helps students set realistic expectations for how much they might earn after college and how much they should borrow for college. Access the free tool at www.studentloan.org/ROCIRealityCheck.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
Wonder how the Democrats in New Jersey feel now? So many made a point of backing Chris Christie for governor last fall. This helped give Christie the patina of a politician who is a cut above the rest. Christie got that supposedly valuable word “bipartisan” attached to his name with the help of various members of the New Jersey Democratic Party who endorsed him.
Why they endorsed him was something of a mystery. Christie did not bend to compromise with Democrats or their constituencies. Rather he looked to slap them down when he could. But the press created this image of Christie as someone that appealed to both sides of the aisle even as he bullied voters, belittled reporters and sparred with members of the Democratic Party.
New Jersey Democrats had a really good candidate to run against Christie for governor last fall. Barbara Buono was her name. She is a solid Democrat with a long track record. But it sure seemed like her name may as well have been Typhoid Mary the way she was avoided by her own party. It was a Christie love fest and apparently Democrats had to get on board while there was still room. Were they threatened by Christie? Were they just wanting to get on board the Christie White House Express early to maybe catch a plum federal appointment? As I said it is a mystery.
What is not a mystery these days is that if a politician identifies themselves as a Republican, they pretty much by definition endorse Republican policies wholesale. Therefore for the most part they stand in direct opposition to most of what a Democrat or a progressive should stand for. I want to make this quite clear. Whether the Republican in question is named Christie or Branstad or Grassley or Matt Schultz or a Mike Huckabee. Much of what a Republican must espouse is due to kow-towing to the tea bagger contingent that has taken over their party.
So whether it is Christie or Branstad, they believe that
a) women should not be in control of their own bodies. That groups of old white men should choose whether birth control or abortion is available to women. Gee, this sounds like a middle eastern country.
b) Babies must be born. After that who cares if they are fed, schooled or doctored. If they did choose the right parents then their lives may be miserable.
c) Christian religion is much more important than science. Following the precepts of Christianity is not important. Saying you are a Christian publicly and loudly is important.
d) If you are poor, you must remain poor and suffer. No government help of any sort should be available to you, or your family ever.
e) If you were born rich you are obviously chosen by God to lead and deserve to be treated as special by the government.
f) If you are a working person, you are lucky to have a job. You should have no right to organize into unions and should be happy to even have a job.
These values are not written down anyplace, but this is what the Republican party practices daily. So why the main stream media has taken it upon themselves to paint Chris Christie as someone who does not encompass these repugnant views is beyond me. They skewer any Democratic politician who endorses even one of those views, yet let Republicans pass even get praised even though holding such views is the price of admission to their party.
Iowa’s version of Chris Christie is Terry Branstad. As governor he uses his line item veto to cut substantial aid to food banks and the press barely reports it. When he realizes he can’t simply dump the Medicaid portion of the ACA because it would be too politically dangerous, he comes up with a scheme that attempts to make the poor pay for their Medicaid and our press barely reports on it. Instead of being truthful in record keeping his administration constantly lies about things like jobs and the press doesn’t even question it.
I am hoping Iowa’s Democrats are much smarter than New Jersey’s Democrats. Branstad over the years has proven he is thoroughly Republican from his days as an early leader of ALEC to these days when he is more than happy to punish the poor. Democrats don’t need to bow to Republicans like Branstad, they need to proudly back their own candidate, Jack Hatch. Hatch is a long standing progressive who would bring solid progressive credentials to Terrace Hill. Iowa can no longer afford Branstad’s unreported Republican agenda.
There is quite a contrast between Brad Anderson and Matt Schultz. In a recent edition of your Muscatine Journal there were two articles concerning the elected position of Iowa Secretary of State.
One described Democrat Brad Anderson’s good ideas on how to increase voter turnout in the state of Iowa.
The other article told of Republican incumbent Matt Shultz’s possible illegal spending of federal funds to conduct a wild goose chase.
It’s bad enough for Shultz to push for repressive “Voter ID” laws and pay the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation $150,000 (so far) in a ridiculous attempt to find “voter fraud”.
But you’ll remember that recently he took a week-long “working” vacation to Switzerland at the same time county auditors were meeting in Des Moines to discuss voter issues after the municipal elections.
Last week Gov. Terry Branstad signed a law which gives him what must be the ultimate among those who desire to hold the control of others’ lives in their hands; he now has the power to decide if a woman who uses Medicaid as their insurance will be allowed to get an abortion paid by Medicaid. Man, other Republican governors must be out of their minds jealous.
When I say “those who desire to hold control of others lives” I mean Republicans. Almost every move since Ronald Reagan has been geared to make those who are not rich lose more and more control of their lives. There are the obvious acts through which a segment of the population loses control over their own lives, such as all the regulations imposed on abortion clinics, which in effect take away choice for women. Having a child imposes huge societal controls on a woman. Now Branstad gets to decide who will have those controls placed on them. And the beauty is that he will not have to contribute one cent of his money to raise the subsequent child.
That is one of many ways Republicans have moved to control our lives in the past 30 years. They have nullified the power of unions and any leverage labor ever had by both busting unions and by passing laws which allow corporations to manufacture overseas without any penalty. This has greatly expanded the labor pool and thus lowered the cost of labor. How does that put the Republicans and the rich in control of your life? Well, have you thought about leaving your job lately? Back in the 70s you may have had a great many opportunities. Today, if you are lucky there might be one or two. More than likely there will be hundreds vying for that job. Since the chances of you leaving your job are slim, the raises and perks that once went with your job have been stunted. If you decide to leave there are a hundred outside the door that are ready to take your place for an even lower wage.
As we come up on birthday #237 for America, the freedoms and liberty that was won so hard against a government that limited freedoms are once more becoming quite limited for the average person. Franklin Roosevelt stated it very succinctly decades ago in a time of great economic trouble. As the country pulled itself out of the Depression, Roosevelt noted the relationship between freedom and economics:
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
Republicans are quite aware that the opposite is also true - people who are hungry and out of a job can easily be controlled. All they had to do was to create the environment in which people were losing their jobs or feared losing their jobs and were either hungry or were getting there. Thus they have passed legislation which funnels government money to the rich. Then in turn they have cut social safety nets which at one time could sustain a person’s dignity. They have also created insecurity in jobs in all sectors through government cut backs, through laws which effectively undermine unions and through laws which allows employers to send jobs overseas for much lower wages.
Republicans have also created a populace they can control by defunding public schools and forcing teachers to teach to a set of tests. This cuts down on the teaching of critical thinking skills. Without those skills, it is harder for a person to understand when someone is controlling them. The rise of corporate and religious run schools with their ideologies also negate critical thinking skills.
And of course the great control mechanism for those in power since the beginning of man and in all societies is religion. That religion is so tied in with Republican Party is no coincidence. The Republican Party using their position in government to pass what should be religious rules is no coincidence either. Republicans know that claiming the mantle of the party of the religious gives them a great way to get votes and a great pipeline to use control mechanisms. Laws pertaining to marriage are a great example. Until just yesterday, our country had a law which controlled who you could and couldn’t marry.
How could you exert control without control of the media? You couldn’t! Usually the first thing the winners of a revolution do is seize the media. One of the first things we did after our revolution was free the media from government control. Yet the media has descended into almost total control by corporations which align themselves with the extreme right of this country. Thus they control the information that is disseminated to us. We now get a very narrow view of what is actually happening. Because of their opposition to the President, one TV network (Fox) refuses to carry anything Obama. They rehash discredited stories such as Benghazi rather than give the president any air.
The last way Republicans exert control is by limiting who can vote. We have a great example here in Iowa with Secretary of State Matt Schultz determining who can vote based on last name. Republicans do not want open elections, they want rigged elections. The gutting of the VRA by the Supreme Court Tuesday will go a long way toward that.
So we have slowly descended as a country into a situation very near what we faced in the 1760s . Once again we have a very small group of very wealthy elites running our lives through control mechanisms that their lackeys in government and industry have imposed on us. I am not advocating a revolution or anything like that. I am pointing out that our freedoms have been usurped. I will also point out that we have the tools to turn the country back to a track of freedom which in turn will bring prosperity. But we have to use these tools. We must run good candidates and vote them into office.
If the thought of Terry Branstad deciding whether a woman he does not know must be forced to give birth and then raise that child with little or no safety nets in place is as repugnant to you as it is to me – get off that couch and get active while you still can!
In a survey released Wednesday, Politifact noted that Republicans lie 3 times more than Democrats. This is based on a study of statements only since the beginning of Obama’s second term. Although I did not see this noted, I would assume it only included actual office holders and did not include Republican sycophants like Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and most radio talk shows.
There were of course some attempt to determine how much truth was being told during the campaign in 2012. Maybe you can remember how well acquainted Republicans were with the truth last year. About the only time Mitt Romney told the truth was the night he thought he was speaking behind closed doors and safely under the rocks to a group of his peers. That was the famous 47% speech. Beyond that it is rather doubtful that Romney ever said anything that was true. Ironically his confidence in winning was buoyed by an old hand at lying who never told Romney the truth. That of course was Karl Rove. Still funny when I think about it.
Like most of you, I think Politifact was being kind. They rated only 1/3rd of Republican statements as false. I seldom hear one that is true. Even our vaunted senator, Chuck Grassley seldom says things that can be labeled fully true. Remember his continual denial that he made the famous “pull the plug on Grandma” statement despite a video of him doing so going viral on the internet.
The very beliefs that under gird the GOP is little but a pack of lies. Whatever you call “Reaganomics” whether it be “supply-side economics” or ”Chicago school” economics or whatever, events have proven over and over that it simply does not work. So as they go on and on about how great their version of economics works, history has long since proven it does not work. As an addendum, the book that their current philosophy of austerity is based on has been proven to be based on false presumptions and misuse of data. That is the now infamous Reinhart and Rogoff book that claims that once the national debt reaches 90% of GDP the consequences get bad and feed on themselves. They had to ignore a lot of data to support that claim.
In Iowa we have some of the most productive liars the Republicans have ever produced. The aforementioned Grassley who seems to be only loosely acquainted with truth. But the top prevaricator in Iowa has to go to Governor-for-life Terry Branstad who still can’t understand the concept of NET job gains. Following close behind is Secretary of State-in-training Matt Schultz who can’t seem to grasp that he must follow laws and that his job is not to make up laws out of thin air.
It is hard to believe that Republicans do not know what they are saying are lies, or if not lies certainly misleads. However, much of what they say is based on lies and misleads pushed by a propagandistic media which is mostly corporate and mostly Republican. Our media is now a sad shell of what it once was. Slanting stories, ignoring stories and leaving out nettlesome facts are par for the course for our corporate media. Republicans can use the media’s poor performance easily as a basis for their lies rather than ferreting out the truth themselves.
Most Republicans (all I am sure) claim that the very basis of their belief system is Christianity and the bible. The Bible itself is a book that seems to be full of pretty questionable accuracy. (Methuselah really lived to be 900 years old? Really?) Even beyond that there is the practice to only support a few quite selected portions of the bible and totally ignore anything they disagree with. (Jesus really did believe that we should not purposely let our fellow man starve to death). So it seems that the very foundation of Republican values is based on untruths, misleads and omissions.
I am not saying Democrats don’t lie. But certainly not on the scale of Republicans and not with the intent of causing harm. The other thing that is so distressing about Republican lies is that they lie in order to cover their true intent on what they want to do in government. If they were truthful, they would be running on a platform of lowering wages to the lowest possible point, ending all government programs that helped individuals in any way, controlling our sex lives and ending all taxes, especially for the rich. Their true platform would be one written by the rich, for the rich. It is already that but is couched in weasel words or Frank Luntz words. Were they to tell the truth no one would vote for them. And nearly everyday more Republicans are awakening to the fact that they are being lied to and lied to and lied to.
Just last week some guy named Bob Dole woke up to that fact, noting that he does not belong in today’s Republican Party.
Reince Preibus wants to start a love affair with all those people who rejected him and his friends in 2012. That is to say that he and the Republican party want to make up with people like the African American community, Latinos, women, gays and all those other people who just said “NO” to the Republicans last election. So Reince has extended his hand. He wants to be your buddy.
But whoa! what is this. While Reince says please join us, Matt Schultz, Iowa’s Secretary of State in training, continues on his Republican approved campaign to make sure that Iowa voters have the right kind of last name. His new rules were supposed to go into effect on March 13th, but he has been so quiet about it that even the press never heard. Maybe out of respect for Reince, Mr. Shultz just decided not to say a thing. It can be a Surprise! next election. Rumor has it that his rules are aimed at those Latinos that Reince wants to cozy up to. Maybe Reince should cozy up to Secretary Schultz and let him know the Party is changing direction.
Steve King Only A 3 Seed
Boy, the competition is tough over at Dailykos in their “Republican March to Madness” tourney. King is in the teabagger division facing Matt Kibbe in the first round. Remember Kibbe is the one who took down Dick Armey in real life. Going to be tough for King. Not sure if his hate of all things not white and male can carry the day with that bunch.
If you want to vote, you will need to sign on to Kos daily @ noon to catch that day’s matches.
There is a name that makes sense for the ALEC led, slow change over from public schools to charter schools run by private companies and paid for by the public. Imagine attending Walmart Grade School or Pepsi High. As Republicans keep defunding our schools and then blame the resulting mess on the teachers we will be seeing more and more call for “charter” schools as the fix. And the first thing they will do is bust unions and the second will be to demand more money. It’s already happening, folks.
Quotes for the week:
“50 yrs ago today Dick Cheney had his 1st deferment to avoid a war in Vietnam. That he supported. Happy Anniversary…Dick.” John Fugelsang
“I did express my regret in saying that he was a numbnuts because I didn’t — I probably shouldn’t have used the word ‘numb’, ” Gohmert said. “That was probably unfair.” Louie Gohmert apologizing for calling John McCain ‘numbnuts.’
Like many I was somewhat shocked when the Republican Party did a 180 degree turn on immigration last week. Suddenly, groups of people they had denigrated for decades, especially Latinos, were their best friends. “We want to be your friend” they said in unison. “We want to help you all become citizens and vote for us, because we really like you.” It was a moment of incredibly moving sincerity.
But, whoa, what is this? Matt Schultz, Iowa’s Secretary of State in training, still has a rule out there he is pushing hard to stop the rampant practice of voting illegally. He may have found a case or two in the past. The best way he can find to stop this deluge is to basically target Latinos. Now i am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but isn’t that in direct contradiction to where the national party is suddenly headed? Somebody, get these guys a map, quickly.
Seriously, if you think that the Republicans are changing their attitudes toward Latinos, may I direct your attention to the Matt Shultzes of the world? While the national party will make a splash about their change of heart, the truth is that at the lower levels they are still trying to stop Latinos from voting.
Remember, Republicans can’t win on issues. Latinos I know care about decent jobs and wages, health care, education for their children without putting them forever into debt and many of the other issues that Democrats have been working for for decades. Republicans want the Latino vote, but not enough to really work for it.
Reforming the Schools
I do not understand the school reforms that Gov. Branstad is pushing so hard for. I am not even sure Gov. Branstad does. But he is so sure that they are needed that he is trying to turn the normal course of school funding upside down in order to get them in. Pardon me for being quite suspicious, but when Republicans want something really bad, it usually benefits someone who is rich and hurts society in general.
Since Branstad is a founding member of ALEC and ALEC is basically a lobbying group that works hard to turn government dollars over to private corporations, I have a feeling that the reforms Branstad is pushing will greatly enrich the privatized school crowd and will work to kill public schools. I base that on what “reform” has meant in other states with Republican leadership.
While charter schools and privatized schools claim going in that they have much better results, the truth is that they don’t, even when they hand pick their students. Republicans are trying to make “public” schools have the same bad name that things like “public” housing does. Truth is once again that America’s “public” schools have been and can once more be one of the shining examples of what a democracy can do. The public itself has a vested interest in well educated citizens. Businesses do not.
Lower Income Folks Pay Higher Percentage of Taxes
Well, our friends at Iowa Policy Project and iowafiscal.org have once again done actual research to shoot down one of the myths that runs rampant in our country. Seems that when they actually break down who pays what in taxes, the poor and low income pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes.
A recent move throughout the country is to shift tax burdens from things like corporate tax and income tax that are more fair to the poor to sales tax which is one of the most regressive of all taxes and is a great burden the poor. Ideas like this are especially hot where Republicans are in charge of both houses of the legislature and the governorship. Thank goodness Democrats control the senate. As I have said before, we are one vote from being Mississippi. That is scary.
Governor Branstad is pushing hard for his Healthy Iowa initiative. Call me a fool, but I would think that such an initiative would include somethingthat would allow people to access health, dental and vision care regardless of income. Universal health care in other words. Until then, Mr. Branstad, your words are empty. Like most Republican ideas for a better society, empty words with no action or money for anyone not already wealthy.
As governor, I am sure you have health care, but way too many Iowans have no access to health care.
Next initiative, back it up with some true action.