Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is calling on Iowa lawmakers to spend the state’s billion dollar cash reserve and budget surplus on pandemic relief.

The group’s calling for Medicaid coverage to be extended to all uninsured Iowans through the end of the year as well as hazard pay for essential workers, guaranteed paid sick leave and more child care assistance for working parents. Linn County Board of Supervisors chairman Stacey Walker said thousands of Iowans are on the brink of a “destitute existence.”

“The age-old question that gets asked in politics: ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ What about one year ago?” Walker asked in a recorded message. “Well, the facts can speak to that question for all of us.”

Cherie Mortice, the board president of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, was among about 20 people who rallied inside the state capitol this morning.

“Our nursing homes in Iowa are just one tragic example of the failure of this state administration to finance and provide oversight and real authority to officials to carry out directives and ensure workers are properly equipped and safe and every resident in a nursing home is well cared for,” Mortice said, to applause.

Her mother died of Covid-related complications in a nursing home in late April. Mortice accused Governor Reynolds of using federal pandemic relief funds for her own personal projects, like new computer software for a state agency, rather than targeting relief to individuals.

“Many workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck because of low wages and hours cut…More and more Iowans depend on food banks for food necessities,” Mortice said. “…Folks, it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a path to recovery.”

The group is calling for the state to provide rental assistance to individuals facing eviction. Republican lawmakers have resisted previous calls for spending any of the state’s dollar cash reserve and surplus. Governor Reynolds and her fellow Republicans says their spending plans over the past four years prevented the state from facing the kind of budget deficits other states are dealing with now.