I would talk about checking groceries, too

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

A Governor Reynolds’ campaign ad talks about her pouring coffee and checking groceries in her younger days. I walked beans, baled hay, pitched manure, painted chicken sheds, mowed lawns, hauled garbage and delivered newspapers, but I am not sure how that qualifies either of us to run a 20+ billion dollar budget.  

She comments that when you work hard, every dollar counts. I agree. So why did she take us from a $940 million surplus to $140 million in debt? That is over a $1 billion change. The answer is simple; corporate welfare.  Example: she gave one of the richest corporations in the world, Apple, with $88 billion in sales, another $205 million or $4.1 million per job created to build in Waukee. Annually, corporate welfare costs Iowans $400-$500 million.  

If every dollar counts, and she cares so much about Iowans that pour coffee and check groceries, then why did she not allow counties to raise their minimum wages, which some had already done? If she cares so much about Iowans, then why is she trying to get rid of IPERS for future policemen, firemen, teachers, county hospitals, municipal, county and state employees?

Her tax refund scheme, (it is an election year), mainly benefitted corporations. She and her party have reduced corporate property taxes, reduced property taxes for large multi-residential properties, but have increased your individual property taxes numerous ways. The individual roll back for corporations and multi-residential are going down and individual rollbacks are going up. She and her party refuse to adequately fund K-12 or higher education so local tax levies are going up as is tuition for higher education, yet she says education is a priority. She and her party refused to extend the one-cent sales tax which allows schools to remodel and build without passing bond issues, without raising your property taxes, plus it lets everyone, not just property owners pay a little toward the school. Actions speak louder than words!  

Just the other day the University of Iowa announces it will close seven centers, eliminate 33 positions and rollback funding for five more centers due to a lack of support from the Republican controlled Iowa Legislature. Among the cuts are programs that do research on the health and well-being of Iowa’s elderly, cuts resources to students with disabilities, cuts funding to veterans transitioning to higher education, and cuts research on the health of agricultural workers, to name a few.

She, nor anyone from her party will answer why she appointed Sen. Charles Schneider to study IPERS and he hired the Koch Brothers funded Reason Foundation (an extreme right wing group that opposes public pensions).  How is that a fair and impartial study? We have already seen the results as there is Senate File 45 ready to go with the study group’s recommendations due Oct. 1, 2018 on how to eliminate IPERS as a defined benefit program for policemen, firemen, city, county and state workers as well as teachers starting July 1, 2019. IPERS has worked well for 65 years and is one of the best pension systems in the country. If it needs tweaking, then tweak it, but why eliminate a great program that affects one out of ten Iowans?  

Here are quotes from Governor Reynolds who in the past served on the IPERS Board. 

“As a defined benefit plan (pension) IPERS is secure, strong, and sustainable. Simply put, it’s good for Iowa. There is no better run public pension system in the state than IPERS.  IPERS has been a strong public pension system that is efficiently managed and serves as a model for other states. Since 1953, IPERS has helped Iowa’s public employers attract and retain a quality workforce while IPERS benefit payments help Iowans and their communities.  IPERS is a powerful economic engine that helps create jobs, keeps retirees off public assistance, and provides security for all members. One in ten Iowans is an IPERS member. They are teachers, social workers, public nurses, firefighters and police, snowplow drivers, and many more who are dedicated to improving the lives of others.”­

So why is she letting the Koch Brothers change it? She, nor anyone from her party will comment. Why didn’t she hire an impartial group to study IPERS? Why is she keeping 355,000 Iowans who depend on IPERS in the dark?   It is just like in 2016 when no one from her Party made any comments regarding collective bargaining prior to the election and then “poof” in 10 days a 45-year-old system that was working and implemented under Governor Robert Ray, was essentially eliminated. The collective bargaining compromise (public employees could bargain but could not go on strike) was eliminated, or 95% of the bargaining was eliminated, but the no strike part was kept.  

Why is she talking about pouring coffee and checking groceries? Because she does not want to talk about collective bargaining, SF45, IPERS, corporate welfare, a $1 billion loss to the state treasury, individual property tax increases, lack of education funding, tuition increases, The University of Iowa closing centers and eliminating jobs, lack of mental health programs, the Medicaid mess.

Speaking of the Medicaid mess, Kansas warned us of what happened when they privatized the system. What did the Governor do? We hired the former director of the Kansas Medicaid program where privatization was disastrous. 

The Governor’s latest ad proclaims Iowa’s mental health progress. Let’s see. Iowa is one of the worst in the nation for the treatment of mental illnesses. We rank 47th in psychiatrists, 44th in mental health workforce availability, and 51st (including the District of Columbia) in the ratio of state psychiatric beds to residents. 

I guess I would talk about pouring coffee and checking groceries, too.  

JOHN BROSTAD 

Storm Lake