Government

Democrats offer 'Putting Iowans First' agenda

The State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
The State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

DES MOINES — Legislative Democrats laid out an agenda for better-paying jobs, economic revitalization, better education and quality of life improvements Thursday to remind Iowans what they stand for.

“I think Iowans want to know what Democrats stand for and want to see a positive agenda,” Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said at a Statehouse news conference.

Her counterpart, House Minority Leader Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said although he believes Iowans know what Democrats stand for, “I believe it doesn’t hurt to have it reinforced periodically.”

As GOP majorities in each chamber work to complete plans to make midyear cuts to the state $7 billion-plus general fund budget, Petersen said it would be a mistake “to believe that the state can cut its way to prosperity.”

So Democrats offered a “Putting Iowans First” agenda, which restated many of the party’s priorities in recent years, even though there’s little likelihood it will be approved in the GOP-majority Legislature.

The plan “focuses on better paying jobs, a great education and affordable health care,” Petersen said. “Democrats believe that Iowa values include investing in Iowans.”

That includes such things as more job training and apprenticeships, repealing collective bargaining changes the Legislature made last year, ending privatized management of Medicaid and investing in infrastructure.

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“Iowans don’t ask for much,” Smith said. “They just want a decent paying job and the chance to lead a happy, healthy life. But we know today that too many Iowans who are working hard are just struggling to get by. Stagnant wages, rising health care costs, and fewer dollars going to job training and public education are hurting Iowa families.”

The Democratic leaders saw some hope for bipartisan collaboration in areas such as expanding access to mental health services and water quality.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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