As the Iowa Legislature reconvenes, we should make our priorities known. Health concerns are paramount, from Medicaid instability to mental health care access. The dirty secret of Medicaid “savings” is taking away coverage from deserving people and denying reimbursement to providers of services. The cost of ignoring basic health care is enormous, for families, businesses and the bottom line.
Water quality is a public health issue. More than two-thirds of Iowans support the three-eighths cent tax increase to provide funding for clean water. Our legislators should as well, with specified goals and metrics to assess improvement over time. We should encourage initiatives by farmers to decrease fertilizer usage and employ cover crops to reduce nitrogen and phosphates in runoff.
Education at our land grant universities is increasingly unaffordable. The Regents raised undergraduate tuition 5 percent this year due to state funding which was halved. This is as the governor proposes another $5.1 million cut to these institutions. Who will attend our universities when average debt upon graduation is $30,000 and median income is $59,000?
Finally, it is hardly the time to speak of tax reduction when we had a $35 million state budget deficit last year. A better way to put money in people’s pockets is to work on livable wage initiatives. Major corporations should serve their employees first, shareholders second, with realistic wages.
If Iowa values of access to health care, a clean environment, good education and livable wages are important to you, contact your state legislators.