Split government

EDITORIAL

BY ART CULLEN

Vision Iowa helped transform Storm Lake’s north shore with King’s Pointe, Awaysis Park and camping improvements thanks to a $9 million state investment on a $40 million project. It rebooted Dubuque with a river museum. Sioux Center got a big grant. Towns big and small all over Iowa restored buildings and civic pride, launched new recreation attractions and built cultural heritage. That singular program was the product of divided government.

Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, worked with Republican and Democratic senate leaders Jeff Lamberti and Mike Gronstal to refurbish old river towns and ignite rural reinvestment. It worked, with billions of dollars in new development leveraged statewide.

Divided government often delivers the best results because only the best ideas, like Vision Iowa, survive. Gov. Terry Branstad was able to manage state government adroitly during the farm crisis with House Speaker Don Avenson. State universities were able to at least maintain their status, K-12 schools got by, and people from different parties were forced by power structures and other circumstances to work for the good of everyone.

When one party takes over everything — the legislative and executive — government can lurch too far. That’s what has happened in Iowa, where education budgets are under attack, where collective bargaining rights have been foreclosed to public employees, and where Medicaid has been privatized to deny critical care to the vulnerable while leaving health care providers short in the purse.

Checks are essential in government. There are no checks in Iowa now. State universities are being run by corporations. There is a spoken threat to continued funding for water quality testing, because it keeps delivering the wrong results. Court budgets are strained. The sales tax for school construction effectively has been taken away from Storm Lake, forcing the cost of a badly needed early childhood education center onto the property tax base to the tune of $30 million or more.

It’s getting to the point where we simply can’t get business done around here for the common good. We need to be able to build bigger schools in growing communities like Storm Lake. Because of the legislature, it will be a lot harder and more expensive for the agricultural property owner than relying on sales tax would be. When one-party rules, it often lacks the critical analysis that suggests a shift of school construction costs to farmland.

Iowa government needs to restore balance this November.

The surest way is to vote for Fred Hubbell.

Democrats might win the House. Their shot at the Senate is far longer. Any one of the branches would do to keep the GOP freight train from rolling this state off the cliff. The surest way is through the governor’s race.

Fred Hubbell is a no-nonsense businessman. He is running to expand mental health care in rural areas, to return operation of Medicaid from private insurance companies to state government in order to save money, and to stop a lot of corporate welfare through the dole of economic development tax credits. He understands budgets and numbers as well as any executive in Des Moines, especially the one occupying Terrace Hill through ascension.

Kim Reynolds is offering more of the same: more closed rural nursing homes, less mental health access from unpaid bills, starved K-12 appropriations and higher community college tuition. And, ultimately, higher property taxes and worse state universities.

Hubbell can put a check on the legislature’s worst excesses, just as Gronstal and Avenson did for Gov. Terry Branstad. Iowans are almost always better served by divided government and an honest debate. Hubbell is forcing that debate through facts. He is the best hope to move Iowa forward and bring us together just a little bit. Four more years of Branstad/Reynolds and a legislature run wild will not be good for the state or its discourse. Hubbell has shown through the primary and general campaign so far that he can take a punch without hitting low. Iowans can respect his basic honesty and decency. Most important, Hubbell is the only sure lever to keep Iowa moving ahead togehter and not off the tracks, divided.