Iowa’s governor held a public hearing at the statehouse early this evening, hearing citizen concerns about state spending and tax policies, as well as a call for a year-long review of the state’s juvenile justice system. Jane Hudson of Disability Rights Iowa praised Governor Terry Branstad’s decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home.

“Although there were many attempts to try to improve services there through training of staff and revision of policies, etc., it just couldn’t change its culture from a correctional-based culture to a treatment-based culture,” Hudson said.

However, Hudson warned the closure won’t save money, as the state will have to provide “transition funding” to ensure the troubled teenagers who are moved out of the facility get the education and care they need in private settings.

“One girl who was in isolation for a long time has been restraint-free for six months and has now returned to public school,” Hudson said. “Another success is a girl who was in isolation for a long, long time is now living in her own apartment, with supports, and is preparing to go to community college, so this is the right direction the state is going.”

Hudson also asked the governor to appoint a task force to study Iowa’s entire juvenile justice system and the governor said it is an idea he’ll review.

Branstad was presented with arguments for and against tax cuts as well.  Cherie Mortice of Des Moines was among three Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members who lobbied for a “corporate tax transparency act” that would require publicly-traded companies to disclose how much they pay in state taxes.

“Governor Branstad, you want to pretend that big corporations are paying too much in taxes. Well, we say prove it,” Mortice said. “…We already know that many out-of-state corporations like Walmart and McDonalds don’t pay state income taxes in Iowa. We need a budget that closes corporate tax loopholes rather than opening them up even wider.”

Business lobbyists like Dustin Blythe of the Iowa Taxpayers Association asked Branstad to reduce or eliminate state sales taxes on the equipment and supplies used to make products.

“Taxing outputs, not inputs,” Blythe said.

John Stineman of the Iowa Chamber Alliance lobbied Branstad to reduce and simplify income taxes for businesses and individuals.

“We do think that is a way that there may be some investment of state dollars on the front end, but that it would generate more growth,” Steinman says. “We’re also looking for long-term revenue solutions for our state’s infrastructure and paying for better and improved roads.”

Stineman was the only person to speak in favor of an increase in the state gas tax. A lobbyist for the state’s construction industry asked Branstad to dedicate a larger share of the state’s gambling taxes to fixing up crumbling state-owned buildings, while two kids who are members of the so-called Green Ribbon Commission urged Branstad to support efforts to spruce up the state’s parks.

AUDIO of first 10 speakers, 26:43

AUDIO of next 10 speakers, 27:54

AUDIO of final 2 speakers, 4:23