Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JANUARY 26, 2011 7:10 AM

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Protecting our community and the University of Iowa

I look forward to working with incoming Gov. Terry Branstad and Speaker Kraig Paulsen in the 84th General Assembly, which began on Jan. 10. There is a new balance in the state Legislature and in Johnson County.

Two Republican representatives now serve our area, and the entire Johnson County delegation will be deeply involved in the direction our state takes for the next decade. It is critical that we all start from the same “starting blocks” for discussion and debate.

There is no budget gap. The budget left by Democrats in 2010 (for 2011) is strong and responsible, with $1 billion in reserves and increased revenues. This is due to the legislative direction we led through the tough recession years and through the worst natural disasters we have ever faced. There is no budget gap.

There is a distinct priority gap. The revenue picture allows for both significant tax relief for middle-class Iowans in the form of income tax, residential property tax, and commercial property tax relief.

On the Republican docket for this session are proposals to reduce funding to the University of Iowa and move our Hawkeye institution toward privatization. This move would reduce all university salaries by 33 percent, reduce the workforce by up to 25 percent, and eliminate the current retirement system. Just as alarming, it would severely limit Iowa students’ access to our public university and quality postsecondary education. There are many smart cuts yet to be made, but privatizing the college and hospitals is backwards thinking at best.

Budget challenges are a matter of priority. We need to continue our massive steps toward government downsizing and consolidation ($265 million in state reductions and savings this year) but also maintain the mission of our public universities. Revenue growth and smart budgeting allow us to listen to the voters and provide much needed tax relief while responsibly funding the state Board of Regents. Hearing from all constituents in Johnson County is a huge step toward eliminating political posturing and working toward common goals.

Ideas for limiting government spending and thoughts on priorities for government investments are key to legislative decision making. For instance — do you support residential and/or commercial property-tax relief? Do you support backfilling commercial relief with your hard earned state income tax (as proposed by the incoming administration)? What social issues (if any) are in your top three priorities for the State of Iowa?

I pledge to listen to you, and I also pledge to fight for our University of Iowa.

Dave Jacoby
State Representative, District 30, Coralville

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