By Iowa Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen
As we wrap up the 2018 Legislative session, I want to thank my Democratic colleagues for the honor of leading our team as the Senate Democratic Leader.
I also want to give a shout out to the retirees for their service: Senator Bertrand and Senator Chelgren. We’re looking forward to giving Senators Rozenboom, Brown, C. Johnson, Lofgren and Breitbach the ability to sit on the same side of the aisle with your caucus next year.
To our Democratic colleagues who are retiring: Senator Dvorsky, Senator McCoy, and the legendary Senator Wall Horn – we will truly miss having the three of you on our team.
I also want to take a moment to ask the chamber to join me in showing our appreciation to our smart, talented, caring and hard-working caucus staffs – from both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
Thank you to the Secretary of the Senate and his staff, the Senate pages and all the hard-working staff at the Legislative Services Agencies.
Let’s give all of them a round of applause.
Mr. President, Mr. Majority Leader, all of my Senate Colleagues, and to all of the Iowans we represent: During my opening day address of this session, I said that Iowans want their leaders to work together, to lead with civility, and to make good things happen for the people of our state.
Senate Democrats listened to the people they serve and responded by offering real solutions to real problems. With very few exceptions, those ideas fell on deaf ears.
Senate Republicans leaders said their agenda was simple: “KICK THE DOOR IN!”
Unfortunately, Iowans are already feeling the consequences of having the door kicked in on them.
The Republican-controlled legislature and Governor Reynolds did a lot of bad things to good people this session.
Iowans believe we should be investing in education and job training – that is how we can help each other get ahead in life.
Instead, you kicked the door in on our school children, college students, educators and Iowans seeking job training to advance their careers.
This year, Republicans cut funding to community colleges and state universities, making it harder for Iowa families to afford sending their kids to college.
Businesses have been telling us that Iowa has a skilled worker shortage. Yet, Republicans failed to adequately support apprenticeship and job-training programs that can help Iowans advance their careers and bring home a bigger paycheck to support their families.
Republicans kicked the door in on our seniors and retirees.
Republicans made choices with the state budget. And those choices resulted in damaging consequences.
When you made a decision to underfund programs for our seniors, you turned your back on taking great care of our older population – helping them stay connected to their communities and helping them live happy, healthy, and safe lives in their homes for as long as possible.
Instead, you alarmed tens of thousands of retirees who were worried because you were working with out-of-state interests to dismantle or weaken the retirement security of Iowans.
Our parents and grandparents living in nursing homes are still stuck with your oversight by telephone – when many of them cannot even hear well enough to talk on the phone.
You did nothing to protect seniors from financial exploitation, neglect and abuse or help families struggling to find caregivers for the people they love.
Republicans kicked the door in on Iowa workers and job creators in our small towns.
Instead of boosting support for Iowa entrepreneurs creating solar jobs in small towns, we saw you threaten the very programs that helped them get their local businesses off the ground.
We have bright young people who could put our state on the map in the tech sector, but Republicans did nothing to help them get their businesses rolling.
We could have worked together to increase our commitments to the renewable energy sector that is fueling our economy and creating jobs in small towns across our state.
Republicans kicked the door in on Iowan’s health care.
Republicans helped Governor Reynolds sell out Iowa’s health care to Wall Street companies.
What did Iowans get?
Less care and Iowa health care providers struggling to get paid.
Republicans took control of women’s health care with dangerous policies that hurt Iowa women and girls. Additionally, it will hurt our state’s reputation and ability to attract new businesses, families and millennials who want to live and work in a state that values women.
Republicans kicked the door in on balancing the state budget.
There is a reason why Republicans couldn’t balance the budget the past two years.
Republicans made a choice – an active decision to sell off Iowa tax dollars at fire sale prices to out-of-state corporations and millionaires.
You’ve ripped off hard-working Iowans who will be stuck with the consequences of your deliberate actions.
This year, like last year, we saw Republican leaders putting cover-ups and cronyism ahead of doing what was right.
First, we saw the entire Senate Republican caucus continue to follow the bad decisions of their leadership who chose to fire Kirsten Anderson just hours after she turned in a complaint of sexual harassment. It wasn’t until the Waveland Tap video surfaced and one of your leaders kicked the door in on himself that your caucus finally took any meaningful, bipartisan action on improving the work environment in the Iowa Senate.
Iowa taxpayers were outraged that they were stuck footing the bill for the $1.75 million lawsuit and paying the salaries and benefits of the perpetrator and retaliators for years. It is still shocking to know that the only person fired in the scandal was the victim – Kirsten Anderson.
Second, Senate Republicans made an active decision to protect Governor Reynolds by ensuring the results of the investigation of her long-time friend and former Iowa Finance Director will not be completed until after the gubernatorial election. Iowans.
Colleagues, we can do better!
I am in the Iowa Senate because I love Iowans!
They are caring, hard-working people. They deserve leaders who are focused less on kicking in doors, and more on taking care of them.
It is time to put Iowans first again.
It’s time to invest in our people and our state’s future by
- making our schools number one again
- ensuring Iowans have access to good paying jobs no matter where they live
- putting Iowans back in charge of our health care instead of turning it over to Wall Street companies and politicians.
Iowans – thank you for making your voices heard this legislative session. Democrats love you and we look forward to working with you to ensure bluer skies are ahead for state – and a much bluer Iowa Senate.