Iowa House Democrats are laying out their legislative priorities as the November election draws closer. On Wednesday they unveiled ambitious plans for higher teacher pay, a first-in-the-nation bio-refinery, and lower commercial property taxes.
Pat Murphy of Dubuque is leader of Democrats in the House, and says Democrats don’t have a price tag for their plan, just a commitment to what they’d do the next two years in the majority. He says they’re areas the Democrats will focus on, and all new dollars will be focused in.
House Majority Leader Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says if it’s proposed without a price tag, voters should be wary. Rants says, “If I was the taxpayers, I’d always be concerned Democrats tend to over-promise and under-deliver.” The last time Democrats were in control of the legislature, he charges they ran up multi-million-dollar deficits.
Democrats point out they were in the majority when the legislature passed a law limiting state spending to 99-percent of state revenues, a law Murphy says led to surpluses in the mid-1990s. House Minority Leader Pat Murphy says if Democrats win control, they promise new investments in renewable energy research, job training, and work-study programs for college students. Murphy says their “plan for prosperity” will benefit both employers and employees.
Murphy says commercial property taxes are “becoming the biggest impediment to economic development in the state.’ He says employees who work hard and play by the rules should be able to get ahead, so to move the floor up, they’re proposing over the next three years moving the minimum wage up to 7-dollars, 25-cents an hour. Murphy says Democrats also want to let small businesspeople pool their workforces to qualify for less expensive health insurance.
But Rants, the head of Republicans in the House, says Democrats’ rhetoric doesn’t match their record. Rants says Republicans supported legislation this year to create health-insurance pools, and though democrats claim to support the idea, he charges they voted against it. He says the actions of Democrats say to 9 out of ten Iowans that they can’t join. Rants says that is not providing prosperity, it’s the opposite.
Murphy says Republicans allowed last spring’s insurance bill to be hijacked by special interests, and when the bill no longer limited premium increases for small businesses, the Democrats pulled their support.