I’m running for re-election because it’s no time to give up the fight for the heart and soul of our state.
For the past two years Republicans in control of state government have mismanaged the state budget, underfunded our local schools, cut funding for higher education, made a mess of our health care system with their failed Medicaid privatization experiment and cut support to our seniors.
Iowa is changing. Its population is becoming more diverse and growing older. It does not have enough skilled people to fill the jobs currently available and this trend will continue. These challenges and opportunities must be the focus of the new state legislature and new governor.
Instead, Republicans and Governor Reynolds wasted time passing pointless sanctuary city legislation, making Iowa an unwelcoming place for new, diverse Iowans. They repeatedly cut funding to programs that help more seniors remain independent at home. Their deep funding cuts to our community colleges and public universities are making it much more expensive for Iowa students to get the skills they need to compete.
Their agenda is taking us in the wrong direction.
It’s time for our leaders to once again support our local schools. With 50 percent of our kids qualifying for free and reduced lunch, they need more support at school not less. These students are our future. Shortchanging them now will hurt us all down the road. These are our future leaders, business owners and skilled workforce. They need to have all the tools to succeed.
It’s time to reverse the generational disinvestment in Iowa’s system of higher education. Our public universities and community colleges have educated generations of our people. This investment has paid us back many times over. In the last decade support for higher education has plummeted even as the state budget has grown by more than $2 billion dollars. This trend is a disaster for Iowa employers who need skilled, educated workers.
Soon to comprise 25 percent of all Iowans, our seniors deserve our support to remain independent, active and healthy at home. We need to restore community-based services our seniors need to thrive.
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It’s been a privilege to represent Iowa City, University Heights and Hills. I have worked hard to serve people in Johnson County. If re-elected I will continue to work hard to address our most pressing challenges and get our state back on track.
• Joe Bolkcom is a Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate District 43.