Branstad locks citizens out of public budget hearing

Only a fraction of everyday people who showed up to testify were given a chance to do so

Dozens of everyday people were locked out of a legally mandated public budget hearing at the state capitol this afternoon and not given a chance to testify after Governor Branstad’s staff only allowed ten people into the Robert Ray conference room at a time, prioritized testimony from big-moneyed corporate interest groups over the testimony of everyday citizens, and ended the hearing after only 60 minutes.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members sharply criticized the governor and say the move to control citizens and limit public input is emblematic of Branstad’s pro-corporate governing style that attempts to squash legitimate dissent of his policies.

“More than 30 CCI Action Fund members waited at the state capitol for hours for a chance to stand up and speak out against Branstad’s corporate tax cut agenda and in favor of budget priorities that put people first – communities before corporations and people before profits” said Cherie Mortice, a retired teacher from Des Moines.

“Branstad’s move to lock everyday citizens out and limit public input is a disgrace to the reputation of representative government and a black eye on the face of our democratic freedoms.”

More than a dozen members of the Iowa Department of the Blind were also denied an opportunity to testify.

The move by Branstad today is reminiscent of his 2012 state of the state address when he packed the house gallery with business interests close to his administration and locked out everyday people and working families.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members mobilized today to demand a state budget that closes corporate tax loopholes, raises new revenue, and uses it – along with part of the budget surplus – to fully fund and reinvest in vital public services like education, the environment, health-care, infrastructure upgrades, and a fair contract for public employees.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members specifically call for a fully-funded Department of Natural Resources, to crack down on factory farm pollution; Iowa Workforce Development, to crack down on wage theft; and Iowa Regents, to lower tuition and decrease student debt.  CCI Action Fund members say they also want to see Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families expanded.

Commercial property tax cuts are a low priority compared to other critical needs, and should only be considered if cuts are targeted to small and local Main Street businesses after other priorities are met first.

 

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