CEDAR RAPIDS — Days before heading into his second legislative session, Iowa Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Nate Boulton urged supporters, “Don’t get outrage fatigue.”
Democrats’ outrage with the GOP agenda last year didn’t stop every piece of legislation that Boulton and his minority party colleagues opposed from becoming law, he conceded at a women’s rights rally in Cedar Rapids on Thursday.
However, he said that by the end of the 2017 session, their voices and presence at the Capitol were having an impact.
“We had some tough fights,” Boulton told about two dozen people at the CSPS Hall rally. However, “there was nothing more encouraging ... than seeing thousands of Iowans step up, stand up and start fighting back.”
And, he added, he expects Republicans will give Iowans plenty to be outraged about in the 2018 session that opens Monday.
One of the first actions of the Legislature likely will be to cut the state budget for the current fiscal year by $40 million or more because revenues are less than projected — despite a stable and growing economy and a 17-year-low state unemployment rate.
“What happens when we do face a disaster? A natural disaster? An economic disaster” he asked. “Instead of low grain prices, an actual farm crisis? If we’re already raiding rainy day funds, what do we do when those problems emerge?”
Iowa cannot afford to maintain $500 million a year in “corporate tax credits, exemptions and giveaways” and hope to have a quality education system, health care system and economy, he said.
Given the current situation, Boulton believes the 2018 race for governor will be part of a “fight for the soul of our state.”
“We have to have a better vision moving forward,” the freshman senator from Des Moines said.
Boulton’s agenda calls for scrapping privatized management of the state Medicaid program, expanding access to mental health care, increasing funding for public education — K-12 and higher education, investing in infrastructure in small and medium-sized towns, protecting IPERS, the state retirement plan, and investing in water quality programs and Iowa’s clean energy industries.
At the same time, Boulton said, Republicans won’t give Democrats a heads-up on their plans or when they will bring legislation to the floor.
“We have to make sure we are paying attention every single day,” he said.
He expects the GOP to push for education savings accounts — vouchers — that will shift funding away from public schools.
“They’ve gone from seven years of cutting (and) now they’re running from public education,” he said. “We can’t let that happen.”
Boulton, 37, is one of seven Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for governor. He’s a workers’ rights attorney who has represented women facing discrimination, injured workers and the mentally disabled. He’s also represented public employees in legal action challenging former Gov. Terry Branstad.
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