What Gov Branstad should say on Jan. 15th, but won’t

The “put people first” policy proposals Gov Branstad should be advocating for

This piece orginally appeared in the Des Moines Register opinion page Monday, Jan 14: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130114/OPINION01/301140012/Iowa-View-What-Branstad-should-propose-but-probably-won-t?Opinion

On Tuesday, Governor Branstad will use his “Condition of the State” address to the Iowa legislature to outline a cut, de-regulate, and privatize agenda that will largely benefit big corporations and the very wealthy while taking the rest of Iowa in the wrong direction.

He’ll demand more tax cuts for big business, even though we don’t need them.

He might even ask the legislature to raise the cap on economic development subsidies for corporations, even though last summer’s Orascom deal in southeast Iowa was arguably one of the largest misuses of taxpayer money in recent history.

And he’ll probably bash state workers and their unions for good measure too, even though public employees are essential parts of Iowa’s middle-class who educate our children and deliver the vital services we all depend on.

But Branstad’s agenda won’t bring us any closer to a shared prosperity for all Iowans. It will only deepen inequality by placing corporate greed ahead of the common good.

This is what Branstad should say during his speech, instead:

  • Number one, good government has an important role to play in creating a fair economy that works for everybody. The question isn’t big government versus small government, the question is, who does government work for? Everyday people and hardworking families? Or big corporations and special interest groups with lots of money?
  • Number two, Iowa’s $800 million budget surplus exists, in large part, because of steep spending cuts put into place after the 2008 economic crisis. Now that our budget outlook has improved, it’s time to use our surplus to reinvest in the vital public services and state programs that play an important role in fostering strong economic growth.
  • Number three, clean air and water are essential to economic development, and hiring more Department of Natural Resources field staff will add good jobs, at a low cost compared to Orascom-style giveaways, while also cracking down on factory farm pollution.
  • Number four, wage theft costs thousands of low-wage Iowa workers $600 million a year, and keeps $60 million in annual tax revenue out of state coffers. Hiring more wage theft inspectors at Workforce Development will more than pay for itself in economic development dividends that can’t be matched by forking over suitcases of cash to the private sector.
  • Number five, throwing public money away chasing smokestacks won’t guarantee jobs that pay a livable wage and affordable health-care. We should be using our resources to expand Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families instead.
  • Number six, we need to save some of our surplus in a rainy day fund so we’re ready to weather the storm of another economic downturn.That’s why the best tax proposal to put on the table this session is actually combined corporate reporting – to close loopholes on out of state companies doing business in Iowa. Not only will this make local businesses more competitive, it will raise up to $100 million a year in new revenue that we can use for education, the environment, health-care, infrastructure, workers’ rights, and a fair contract for public employees.

These are the “put people first” policy proposals Gov Branstad should be advocating for, because they form the basis of a real path forward towards the more just and democratic Iowa we all want to see.

But since we can’t count on the Governor to do what’s right, it’ll be up to everyday people and hardworking families to make the case for what really matters up at the statehouse this year.


Take action

Sign the petition calling on Branstad to push a budget that puts people first and then RSVP to let us know you’ll join us at the statehouse on Jan. 15.



Join the fight

 Click LIKE and TWEET if you want to see Branstad/Reynolds and the legislature address these issues.

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