Republican Governor Terry Branstad and his Democratic challenger, State Senator Jack Hatch, campaigned for the senior vote during separate appearances before the “Older Iowans Legislature” at the state capitol Tuesday.
Eighty-seven-year-old Betty Kelly, a delegate from Iowa City, asked Branstad a question.
“I would like to know why you vetoed the legislative proposal to add two ombudsmen to our current meager few,” Kelly said.
Those ombudsmen investigate allegations of elder abuse and mistreatment in long-term care facilities. Branstad says there wasn’t room in the state budget to hire more people.
“I made a commitment to the people of Iowa,” Branstad says. “I’m not going to put us back in the financial mess we were in the previous administration.”
Hatch told the delegates he favors reduced property taxes for seniors so they can stay in their homes longer. Hatch also highlighted his role in the state senate on the committee that drafted the budget for human services programs.
We have at every turn made sure that senior issues in my budget are discussed, debated and always moved forward,” Hatch said. “Not always at the pace that you want.”
Hatch also promised to endorse stricter nursing home inspections if he’s elected governor. Delegates criticized Branstad for raising state reimbursement rates for nursing home care without requiring improvements in the care provided to seniors in those homes.