Janice for State Senate
Quality Public Education
Education is the future. Both students and teachers should have the resources to be successful.
Public education IS our future. To maintain and improve public education, we must:
- Adequately fund public education. The governor says 1.5%; schools need 3-4% to start to regain the ground lost over the past decade.
- Support our students and teachers. Public schools are the great equalizer, serving students of all ages and abilities. That is what our tax monies must support, not private education. We must recruit and retain the best teachers, which can only happen if we bring back real collective bargaining.
- Recognize that different districts face different challenges. A rural district faces challenges that differ from those of an urban area. Their transportation costs are high and their student numbers not as robust. We must support both.
- Extend SAVE. Extend the penny sales tax that funds improvements.
- Fund community college and state universities. They educate our workforce and support our communities. Do not starve them.
- Preschool and Pre-K. Kids benefits for the rest of their lives. We know that, we should make this a state priority.
Appropriate Economic Development
Encourage growth and economic development in cities and towns across rural Iowa.
Paying attention to communities of all sizes: The right development solutions for Coralville or for Iowa City may not fit Tipton, West Branch, Durant or Wilton. Big tax breaks for large corporations should not be part of Iowa’s arsenal.
Public-private partnerships with educational institutions: Community colleges train people for trades and skilled jobs; they support businesses with expansion plans. We cannot underfund them or eliminate their programs that serve distinct regions. Together with our universities, they are the links between K-12, the job market, and robust communities. They also reach many who might not otherwise obtain a certificate or complete post-secondary education, a boon to communities and businesses across the state.
Incentives: Incentives, including TIF (tax increment financing), can be used to help reclaim blighted property. Used even in modest ways – to acquire a right of way and hook up a water and sewer line, for example, to a building that has stood empty for years – it can encourage local development. Cities and towns can also consider judicious tax breaks in exchange for jobs, tailored to their circumstances and needs.
Online clearing house: An online clearing house, where a prospective business person answers a series of questions, and in response, all possible funding and grant options pop up, would be an excellent start-up opportunity that could promote locally-based economic development.
Improved marketing: We must market ourselves better. One argument for lowering the state corporate tax rate is that Iowa’s current rate turns off potential investors. Two possible solutions: (1) Lower the corporate rate to the current effective rate, while cleaning the books of credits/loopholes that allow them to reach the current effective rate; or (2) Make clear what the effective rate is through improved outreach and advertising, utilizing Chambers of Commerce, among others.
Protect the Vulnerable
Protect Medicaid patients the disabled the working poor, those battling mental illness and the elderly.
Persons battling mental illness, the elderly, Medicaid recipients, the disabled – all are examples of Iowa’s vulnerable populations. I focus here on mental health care, an area in which Iowa must do much better. Specifically, Iowa falls short on treating the seriously mentally ill, the most difficult and costly to treat. This is a spare outline on a hugely complex topic:
- Leadership is needed: We need a serious, multi-disciplinary, independent task force comprised of those with direct knowledge of, and experience with, mental health issues and Iowa’s current system; with a clear mandate to produce a series of recommendations to improve Iowa’s mental health care from the bottom up.
- Mental health care must be accessible: We have nowhere near the beds needed, and there are expanses within the state where people must travel hours to get help. Mental health care must be ACCESSIBLE to all Iowans. Most urgent is access to and adequate care for the most seriously ill – those who truly need full time care, but often end up back in the community. Giving the most seriously ill access to the type and duration of care they need also opens acute care beds to those in crisis.
- We must provide all levels of care: We need a continuum of care that is accessible to all – acute care, sub-acute, mid-term, long-term residential care, and assisted outpatient treatment. Assisted Outpatient Treatment in particular can reduce the bed shortage and lower overall costs. We need access centers so patients do not end up in jails and ERs. We need expertise in dual diagnosis (mental health and addiction issues combined), and we need professionals to help with mental health issues in schools.
- Attracting and retaining mental health care professionals. There is a critical shortage of mental health care professionals.
- Reduce barriers to treatment: Lack of access; limitations by insurance companies; allowing agencies and psychiatric providers to refuse to treat the most seriously ill patients; discharging patients who are not stabilized – all create barriers to treatment and must be addressed.
As a friend of mine repeats daily as her mantra: We can do better, we should do better, we must do better. If elected, I will work hard so that we can truly say, “We will do better.” And then, “Finally, we are doing better.”