by Kyle Weidleman | June 10, 2011
Despite temperatures in the mid-90s, hundreds of concerned Iowans rallied on the State House steps Tuesday to protest the "Frankenstein" budget bill, a piece of omnibus legislation assembled from a hodgepodge of right-wing legislation that failed earlier this year. The demonstrators made clear that the planned budget cuts and policy add-ons were unacceptable.
During a two-hour public debate session yesterday, AFSCME members and other Iowans concerned about education and public services lobbied their representatives. "You're trying to balance the budget on the backs of our 4-year-olds," said one kindergarten teacher.
AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan said from the floor: "State workers are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet – they are your neighbors and a vital part of Iowa’s economy."
The citizens' concerns were not heeded, as Republican House leadership ended debate Wednesday in an attempt to pass their monster bill. If no budget is passed by June 30, the Iowa state government will shutdown to only essential services.
With the threat of a shutdown looming, Gov. Terry Branstad and State House leaders are more interested in legislative gamesmanship than in maintaining vital government services. In the event of a July 1 shutdown, decisions on "essential services" will likely be left up to Branstad. Although a shutdown would affect all Iowans, Branstad has ordered state officials to keep their contingency plans secret.
State House Republicans in Iowa have chosen to ignore their constituents, but their budget brinksmanship will only serve to turn public opinion further against them.