In recent years, the state of Iowa has experienced a concerning phenomenon that I like to call the “Iowa Overreach.”
Since taking full control of state government in 2017, the Republican Party led by Gov. Kim Reynolds has pursued a relentless agenda of stripping away local control, undermining public education, restricting rights, and promoting discrimination. Their arrogant, overreaching agenda has harmed children, short-changed vulnerable Iowans, and weakened communities–while doing nothing to solve the biggest challenges we face.
It is imperative that we remember and respond to this Republican overreach to protect our rights and the future of our great state.
One of the most egregious examples of Republican overreach is the assault on public schools and educators. Our schools have been systematically underfunded for over a decade now, diminishing Iowa in national rankings and making challenges like teacher recruitment and rural consolidation worse, not better.
This year, Reynolds and Republicans in the legislature made the problem even worse by creating a voucher system that will spend nearly $1 billion on exclusive private schools – funding that could have been used to strengthen the public schools that educate 95 percent of Iowa kids.
Republicans in Des Moines also moved this year to micromanage our schools with heavy-handed mandates on diversity, history, and even the books allowed in our school libraries. Banning books and censoring curriculum hinders the intellectual development of our students while perpetuating discrimination and ignorance. Education should be a tool for enlightenment, not a means to withhold crucial information.
We saw Republican overreach, too, in the shattering of collective bargaining rights for educators and other public workers back in 2017. This attack on workers undermined Iowans’ ability to negotiate fair wages, working conditions, and benefits, leading to declining morale and a loss of talented educators from our public schools.
We also saw Republican overreach in action this year with the passage of a child-labor expansion that blatantly violates federal law. Instead of doing the right thing, Republican politicians are trying to do the easy thing – at the expense of Iowa youth. Allowing kids to work long hours in dangerous environments robs them of their right to a safe childhood, but it will not solve Iowa’s workforce crisis.
Republican lawmakers also showed a disgraceful willingness this year to punch down on Iowans in need. New red tape and hurdles on food assistance and other safety-net services could cost the state more money than it saves – while preventing eligible Iowans from getting the help they need. That’s government overreach of the worst kind, echoing the Medicaid privatization that has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars, while actually making healthcare worse for many Iowans.
Since 2017 and even before, the story of the Republican majority in Iowa has been a story of arrogance and overreach. Iowans deserve better from their leaders, and it’s time to start demanding it.
We must hold our elected representatives accountable for their actions and accountable to the basic Iowa values of fairness, equality, and justice.
by State Senator Molly Donahue