Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is quickly adapting to the new normal in American politics. She took office in May of this year, replacing Terry Branstad who resigned to become the U.S. Ambassador to China. Governor Reynolds has decided to take a page out of President Trump’s playbook by engaging in childish name-calling against those who disagree with her. At an event last week Governor Reynolds said, “As we all know as we travel the state, the liberals are unhinged and they are out for us.” Unhinged huh? Let’s just see what makes someone unhinged in Iowa these days.
Am I unhinged because I am tired of watching business tax credits grow at a rate far more than other state spending, creating annual budget shortfalls? From 2009-2016 31 wealthy companies claimed $301 million in research tax credits event though they paid no state income taxes.
Am I unhinged because I’m angry that Republican legislators mauled collective bargaining rights for public employees in the last legislative session? In an act that can only be viewed as taking out vengeance on teachers and other public employees, Republicans in the Iowa legislature took away the rights of public employees to bargain for health care, layoffs, and transfers. No Iowa Republican ran on a platform of gutting these rights during the 2016 elections and there was no public outcry for legislators to take this action, yet out of state forces applied pressure to force this legislation into law.
Am I unhinged because I find it embarrassing that Iowa ranks dead last in the country in psychiatric beds per capita? The budget shortfalls created by obscene tax credits for wealthy corporations led to closing two of Iowa’s four state mental health institutes.
Am I unhinged because I want Iowa’s tax dollars to support Iowa’s public schools rather than go into the pockets of for-profit charter schools? Iowans are rightfully proud of their public schools, but out of state interests continue to push Republican legislators to support legislation that would drive resources away from public schools.
Am I unhinged to be concerned about water quality in my state? Republican legislators are doing nothing as corporate agriculture is making a mess of our waterways. Rather than support efforts to clean up our rivers, Iowa legislators have made it more difficult for neighbors to file complaints about pollution and eliminated scientific research at the Leopold Center.
In the era of Trump I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that our state’s leaders have resorted to childish name calling, but it’s sad. But rather than be offended, I choose to embrace it. If I’m going to be called unhinged it is going to be for the right reasons. I have become unhinged as I watch my state’s leaders travel down a road that our neighbors in Kansas have proven is a recipe for failure. I have become unhinged as legislators attack public employees at every opportunity. I have become unhinged that we have prioritized corporate profit over important public services and public safety. I have become unhinged that out of state activists with narrow agendas are driving public policy.
Call me all the names you want Governor Reynolds, but Iowans deserve better than what they are getting from our legislators. The voices that you think are out to get you are growing each and every day because we want Iowa to be great for all of us, not just those who can afford access.