As Governor Branstad prepares to give a budget address to the citizens, State Senator Bob Dvorsky offers some suggestions.|As you prepare to deliver the first budget address of your new term as Governor, I’m sure you are getting lots of advice from supporters, advisors and experts. I’d like to make a few suggestions that I believe will help your speech resonate with Iowans in the midst of this lingering national recession.
First, your budget should emphasize the importance of economic recovery for ALL Iowans, not just a few. Many small business owners and their employees were pleased to hear Debi Durham, your choice to lead the Department of Economic Development, reject a plan approved last week by the Republican-controlled House to eliminate several successful initiatives that have created many good paying jobs across our state. Your budget speech is a wonderful opportunity to reject this job-killing scheme.
Second, put an end to all budget gimmicks and, for goodness’ sake, please don’t introduce any new ones. That means no more talk about a two-year budget (which Iowa hasn’t had since the days of Governor Ray) and other gimmicks that have nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. Instead, base your budget on the fact that the state of Iowa’s overall budget surplus at the end of the current fiscal year is estimated to be $903.5 million.
Third, don’t propose a budget that turns our back on Iowa’s future. In particular, don’t seek to make it harder for parents to enroll their four-year-olds in a high quality preschool program. The number of Iowa families with access to quality early education increased from 19 to 60 percent in the first four years Iowa’s successful quality preschool initiative. You will disappoint many Iowa families if you call for eliminating preschool like the House Republicans did or push for barriers that will reduce access to preschool by families in rural areas, small towns and big-city neighborhoods, barriers like vouchers or means testing.
Finally, good luck on your new beginning as governor. Don’t forget to mention in your speech that, despite the worst recession since the Great Depression, Iowa’s economy is improving and the state budget is in far better shape than most other states. Better days are on the way!