The Ottumwa Courier


July 3, 2013

Governor's priorities aren't Iowa's priorities

When elected officials make decisions about spending public dollars, they reveal their priorities and values. Gov. Branstad recently completed action on the new state budget by issuing a flurry of item-vetoes. In doing so, he revealed what his true priorities include and do not include.

The state of Iowa has a large cash surplus. The state has been so flush with cash that the governor has proudly touted tax cuts for large, out-of-state corporations like Walmart. Furthermore, he has awarded massive incentives for corporations that will create few permanent jobs. For instance, the Egyptian company Orascom was awarded $250 million in state and local incentives to build a fertilizer plant in Lee County that will create only 165 permanent jobs. These incentives were in addition to a $300 million benefit from federal Midwest Disaster Area bonds that Orascom would not have been eligible for at any proposed sites outside of Iowa.

In contrast, the governor used his item-veto pen to slash $13 million in mental health funding. This funding, which was supported on a bipartisan basis, was intended to help Iowa’s most vulnerable and to protect our communities. Without these funds, counties will need to cut mental health services as Iowa transitions to a new regional system, and many Iowans will not be able to obtain much needed services. On top of his item-veto slashing mental health funding, Gov. Branstad also vetoed $8.7 million in services to Iowans with disabilities. The governor’s values do not match the values of Iowans. Iowans believe in caring for the most vulnerable and protecting our communities from harm.

The basic functions of government include ensuring public safety and having fair and accessible courts. In order to do this, the state of Iowa must support those who provide these services. In his recent set of item-vetoes, Gov. Branstad vetoed funding that would have helped the state meet its commitments to the Peace Officers’ Retirement Fund and Judicial Retirement Fund. These fiscally responsible investments, which were supported by Democrats and Republicans, were deemed by the governor to be less of a priority than massive giveaways to corporations like Orascom. The governor’s actions likely signal his intention to attack the retirement security of all public employees, including employees covered by the larger IPERS system.

The governor’s actions have made it crystal clear where his priorities lie. Iowans should keep this in mind as they evaluate his job performance.

Danny Homan is president of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, which represents more than 40,000 public employees in Iowa.

Text Only
  • Make Ottumwa Shine offers opportunity We hear a lot of complaints about the condition of our town. Some are justified, others are the kind of carping that happens in any community. But this month shows the difference between those who just want to complain and people who are genuinely in

    May 2, 2014

  • Investing more money in tornado research would be a disaster

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding to focus on improving forecasts of "high impact weather events" like tornadoes and hurricanes "for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

    April 4, 2014

  • 1120 OTT Opinion Reiter bw photo -L A running Start The Great American Smokeout is tomorrow. The American Cancer Society has chosen the third Thursday in November for this annual event to encourage smokers to quit. There are still an estimated 43.8 million cigarette smokers in the U.S. and several mil

    November 19, 2013 1 Photo

  • No Headline Provided

    October 25, 2013

  • Be aware of prostate cancer I am very pleased to see the coverage and interest in breast cancer with October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are about 220,000 new cases of breast cancer reported every year, and it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths

    October 4, 2013

  • Our View Election a chance to move Ottumwa forward Over the past several days, the Courier sat down with each of the candidates for City Council. Among the candidates are some of the best people we've seen step forward in a very long time. We'll endorse candidates for the general election. What we wa

    October 4, 2013

  • Broadband Internet just the beginning I had the opportunity to meet the broadband delegation from Ottumwa who recently toured Steuben County, Ind. As one of the iMAN Fiber Network team members, I can assure you this was an incredible experience for both of our groups. First, as I've lear

    September 14, 2013

  • Request free utility locates using Iowa One Call technology Iowa homeowners who need to dig on their property have free access to an updated technology tool, iTic Lite, available from Iowa One Call, the organization tasked with promoting the message "Call before you dig in Iowa." For their own safety and that

    September 10, 2013

  • Tell us your survivor story The world is filled with stories. Some make front-page news while others get hidden and are never told. Stories of people who overcome obstacles should have a place to make their voices heard. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Courier

    September 6, 2013

  • School board voting will be a little easier Tuesday The League of Women Voters would like to encourage a greater participation by voters in the upcoming election of school board members. It is encouraging to see a larger number of citizens campaigning to serve their community on the school board. I

    September 6, 2013

AP National