Guest Columnist

Hoping Iowa lawmakers follow oath

The judicial delegation arrives in the Iowa House Chamber for the Condition of the State address in Des Moines on Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The judicial delegation arrives in the Iowa House Chamber for the Condition of the State address in Des Moines on Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Iowa’s 87th general assembly (2017-2018) was a mind-boggling head-spinner.

Two examples: First, we saw a $1.058 billion negative budgetary turnaround yet legislators handed out $611 million as corporate tax breaks. Second, legislators continued to underfund K-12 public schools while trying to increase privatized tutorial education funding. To say the least, hope springs eternal when the 88th General Assembly convenes Jan. 14.

If you’d like to see if your legislators will actually carry out their oath of office by truly representing and being your voice at Iowa’s Capitol, consider sending them one or more of these to-the-point letters:

Dear legislators: Iowa privatized its $5 billion Medicaid health insurance program to provide proper health care service for 783,000 low income and disabled citizens, and Gov. Kim Reynolds had the audacity to allow UnityPoint Health to secretly keep $2.4 million in overpayments. We’re witnessing a 12-15 percent operating cost with out-of-state for-profit insurance companies running the program. Please conduct a non-partisan Legislative post audit on the program and honor 72 percent of Iowans who want to return to the pre-2016 operationally efficient and less costly nonprofit managed care program.

Dear legislators: Investments in Iowa’s K-12 public schools have been the lowest relative to cost of operation for eight of the last nine years; 1.1 and 1.0 percent increases the last two years. The School Administrators of Iowa note schools need 3 percent yearly increase to meet their annual cost of operation. Please get Iowa out of its current 16th worst financed public school districts in the U.S. ranking by making us number 25 by 2020 and in the top 10 by 2021.

Dear legislators: Corporate tax credits have doubled in the past five years and 60 percent of recipient companies do not pay Iowa income tax. Last year you handed out $611 million as corporate welfare tax breaks. Numerous research studies have concluded corporate incentives hold little to no long-term job creation or economic value. The independent Tax Foundation ranks Iowa as the sixth-worst state for overall tax climate and 34th on the economy; corporate tax entitlements are not working. Quit throwing our hard-earned tax money to the wind.

Dear legislators: Sixty-three percent of Iowans voted in 2010 to pay more taxes to create the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund and improve outdoor, wildlife habitat and water quality. You’ve ignored our voted-upon demand for eight years. If you actually represent your constituents, enact our requested three-eighths of a penny tax increase as we want to improve Iowa’s environment.

Maybe you’d prefer to give legislators your two cents worth of advice on other topics such as property taxes, nursing home inspections, child protection workers, collective bargaining, IPERS, voter registration, gun ownership background checks, mental health facilities, family planning services, hog confinements, infrastructure, women’s health care, etc.

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Be bold, brave and communicate with your legislators — otherwise, don’t complain when the Legislature adjourns about May 3.

• Steve Corbin is a freelance writer and a professor emeritus of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. Comments: Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com

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