Water Debate Heats Up – Speak Up For Real Action For Water Solutions
One of the key issues facing the state that is expected to be addressed early in the session is water policy. In early January, I wrote an op-ed for the Gazette and the Des Moines Register, urging Iowans to speak up for real action for the many water solutions that work, with specific legislative suggestions that would create rural jobs, improve soil health, and clean up our water. I also pointed out that Senate File 512, a pending bill that has already passed the Senate, was not good legislation. It promises to spend money on the problem in the future, subject to change by a future Legislature, without any real accountability or measurement of results.
Here is a link to my guest column.
On Tuesday of this week, State Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) wrote a guest column in the Des Moines Register that said I was “throwing barbs” at “good legislation,” rather than proposing ideas of my own. Here is a link to his guest column:
I obviously disagree with Representative Wills’ view of my guest column, and the work I have done to not only propose water solutions but to actually pass them (e.g., Iowa Flood Center, Iowa Flood Mitigation Board, watershed management authorities, etc.).
However, there is good news in Representative Wills’ guest column. If his column is true, the Republican majority does not have a “done deal” on water that they intend to pass without further committee work or public input. That means Iowans have a real opportunity to speak up with your ideas to clean up our waters and reduce the risks of drought and flood damage.
Reynolds Proposes Large Mid-Year Budget Cuts . . . Again
Yesterday, our Justice System Budget Committee began reviewing Governor Reynolds’ proposed major mid-year budget cuts. It includes a $3.4 million cut to Corrections, a $1.6 million cut to our courts, and a $900,000 cut to the Iowa State Patrol. Even areas like victim assistance programs, which were cut by 26 percent over the last two years, would face an additional $45,000 cut.
This is on top of major mid-year cuts to other areas of the budget such as Medicaid ($10 million), our universities ($5.1 million), human service operations ($3.3 million), and our community colleges ($1.8 million).
It is clear that the policies of the Branstad and Reynolds Administrations are not meeting the needs of Iowans, and Republicans are talking about making the situation worse with even more tax cuts. We cannot cut our way to prosperity. I believe we need a new direction. Here is my three-part strategy to fix the Branstad-Reynolds budget mess:
(1) Fiscal discipline to balance the budget as required by Iowa law;
(2) Strategic investments and initiatives in education, job training, public health, clean energy, water management, natural resources, infrastructure, and community development to support more and better jobs and raise wages in every county in Iowa; and
(3) Fair and progressive tax policies that generate the revenue needed to operate state government.
You can help by speaking up with legislators of both parties to stop the cuts that hurt education, public safety, health care, and water management, and get Iowa going in a better direction.
Stay Vigilant – Watch Out For These Issues
Finally, I want to urge you to stay alert and speak up on some other big issues that the Republican majority could raise in the 2018 legislative session. Just like the rushed legislation last year to gut workers’ rights and close the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, they could ram through bad ideas again. Here are five items on my “watch” list:
- Will the majority fund public schools at a level that at least matches inflation (2.5 percent in 2017)?
- Will the majority protect IPERS and other retirement security?
- Will the majority fix the Medicaid managed care mess?
- Will the majority fix the problems in the health insurance market?
- Will the majority use “tax reform” as a guise for more tax cuts that make the budget mess even worse?
This is not a complete list. There are many important issues that could come up for consideration in the 2018 legislative session. I hope you will contact me with your questions and suggestions, and I hope to see you at one of the upcoming events mentioned above.