Boulton Lays Out Vision Forward for Iowa
“We need to take action now, to turn Iowa around and ensure working Iowans can reach their full potential here.” – State Senator Nate Boulton
Des Moines, IA- State Senator Nate Boulton, candidate for governor, announced his Action for Iowa plan today, detailing his positive vision forward for the state of Iowa. As the first funnel week in the 2018 legislative session has come to a close, Republicans failed to take up Democratic policies that would lift up working Iowans, and have prioritized corporate tax credits, exemptions, and giveaways over public education, DHS, and corrections. Boulton’s plan consists of bills he has introduced in the Senate during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, and policies he has consistently talked about on the campaign trail for the past ten months that will improve the quality of life for Iowans in small, midsize, and large communities. As the only legislator in the race for governor and the only candidate to release a full policy package, Iowans know where Boulton stands on the issues and can count on his willingness to fight for Iowans and the things in which he believes. During his first legislative session as Governor, Boulton will take action to enact this plan and reverse the direction Republicans have taken Iowa.
Having grown in prominence fighting for workers’ rights during the 2017 legislative session, highlighted by the 26-hour debate on SF213, Boulton continues to be a leader in the Iowa Senate, in the courtroom, and on the campaign trail, defending the working families of Iowa. He believes in investing in the most educated, skilled, and productive workforce to create a strong economy, rather than giving away millions in tax credits to large companies. In the first week of February, Boulton introduced his workforce policy package in the Iowa Senate, including the following bills:
Reinstating Chapter 20 and expanded scope bargaining: SF 2186 will undo the changes made to Chapter 20 last session, and expand collective bargaining rights by allowing corrections staff to bargain over staffing levels and firefighters over safety and protective equipment, and restoring the rights of teachers to negotiate fair health insurance benefits and wages. It will also eliminate the artificial distinction between public safety and non-public safety employees and restore seniority rights to employees who have been dedicated to their jobs for years.
Ensuring workers’ choice in doctor: SF 2185 will ensure that workers hurt on the job are able to choose their own doctor.
Create Retirement Savings Iowa: SF 2088 will help Iowans save for their retirements more securely by creating Retirement Savings Iowa. This trust would be managed by the State Treasurer for businesses that do not already provide employees with a retirement savings option to be able to offer their employees the option of investing a percentage of their paycheck in a state-managed retirement account at an amount determined by the employee.
Provide portable pensions: SF 2087 will study ways to give non-traditional workers and independent contractors who are usually ineligible for health care and other employment-related benefits access to a portable benefits program.
Provide paid family leave: SF 2133 will provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for working Iowa families when they must care for a family member with a serious health condition or to bond with a newborn, adopted, or foster child. The bill also provides for paid medical leave for a personal serious health condition. Based off the federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, this bill will offer Iowans the flexibility to plan for their futures while ensuring that after the 12-week period of paid time off, the employee will be able to come back to a stable job with the same pay and benefits as when they left the position to take leave. This is the first bill of its kind to have been introduced in the Iowa Senate, and would be paid for through employee and employer contributions to an insurance account managed by the State Treasurer.
Raise the minimum wage: SF 156 will immediately raise the minimum wage to $10.75 by 2019 and index it to inflation. Rather than lagging behind five of Iowa’s six neighboring states, Iowa must become a leader on developing a stronger workforce and creating a livable wage. As Governor, Nate would fight for a $15 minimum wage by 2024.
Iowa has the most skilled educated and productive workforce in the world, but to keep it, Iowa must invest in that workforce. Governor Reynolds and Republicans continue to hold back and take away from working Iowans while giving away over $600 million in corporate tax credits and exemptions in order to attract jobs by being the lowest bidder. These actions are throwing Iowa’s budget off balance, but the Republican solution is to ignore the problem and balance the budget by dipping into rainy day funds when the sun is shining while cutting millions of dollars from education, corrections, DHS, and the judicial branch in mid-year budget cuts. This dangerous cycle is not good for Iowa’s economy or its people, but Boulton is ready to take action that is desperately needed to address the artificial budget crisis created by Reynolds and the Republicans.
Rather than waiting until too late like Governor Reynolds, Boulton would immediately review every tax credit and exemption his first day as Governor to assess which programs are failing to provide a reasonable return on investment. Already, Boulton would plan to cap the consumables tax exemption and the Research Activities Tax Credit. In addition to his review and proposed caps and sunsets, Boulton has already introduced SF 2211 to increase tax credit transparency by requiring the Economic Development Authority to publish every tax credit and exemption on their website, increasing transparency and showing Iowans where their tax dollars are going.
By reducing the tax credit and exemption programs, Boulton will focus on smarter economic investment opportunities, including expanding the Main Street Grant program in Iowa to rebuild and beautify infrastructure in small and midsize communities while creating construction and local jobs.
For seven years in a row, Republicans have underfunded education, and this year, though Governor Reynolds said she planned to invest in education during her Condition of the State address, her administration has underfunded k-12 public schools for the eighth year in a row and proposed millions of dollars of cuts for community colleges and the Regents institutions in the most recent round of mid-year budget cuts. Boulton knows investing in Iowa’s future workforce is essential to the long-term future of the state and is dedicated to funding schools at a reasonable level so that school districts, community colleges, and public universities can thrive instead of struggling to make ends meet and competing against each other for funds. As Governor, Nate would ensure Iowa once again values the profession of teaching by fighting to restore teachers’ rights and ensure we have the best and brightest teaching our children.
Boulton originally went to school to be a high school government teacher, and knows first-hand that the early years of school are essential to creating a life-long love of learning. In the 2017 legislative session, he introduced two bills to expand access to early education:
Preschool expansion incentive: SF 136 will create an incentive program for school districts to expand preschool enrollments with the goal to make programs available for every child on a preschool waiting list, especially in low-income and high-minority communities.
Expand access to kindergarten: SF 354 will lower the compulsory school attendance age from 6-years-old to 5-years-old, expanding access to kindergarten programs.
Iowa has often been a leader in the United States for civil justice, but under Republican leadership, Iowa has taken steps backwards regarding civil rights. Governor Reynolds has said that LGBTQ+ issues are a matter of local control, putting the rights of LGBTQ+ Iowans in danger, has underfunded the judicial branch of government, slowing down the justice system, and supported the voter ID law passed in 2017, limiting access to the ballot for minority, young, elderly, and disabled Iowans.
In all of these cases, Boulton has consistently fought to protect Iowans’ civil rights. When Iowa Safe Schools, an LGBTQ nonprofit advocacy group was attacked by legislators at the Capitol, Nate volunteered legal services and stood up to defend the organization as an attorney. As Governor, Nate would fight to ban conversion therapy and work to ensure that every child, no matter their sexual orientation, can go to school free from harassment and bullying.
An attorney who has fought for victims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, Nate supports the efforts made by Chief Justice Mark Cady to address the inherent biases throughout the justice system in Iowa and would continue to support efforts to reduce racial profiling and sentencing disparities. While Governor Reynolds and the Republicans plan to cut millions of dollars from the judicial branch, resulting in continued understaffing and possible courthouse closures, Boulton is dedicated to supporting equal access to justice for all Iowans, no matter where in Iowa they live.
When Republicans passed a voter ID law in 2017 to address the minor voter fraud in Iowa, they limited access to the ballot for minority, young, elderly, and disabled Iowans. Boulton spoke out on the Senate floor to oppose the legislation last year, and continues to advocate for its repeal. He also opposes efforts to require local law enforcement officers to comply with the federal immigration detainer requests.
In the 2017 legislative session, Boulton introduced SF 340 to create equal pay for equal work as a reality, rather than just a policy, to ensure women are valued in the workplace just as much as men. As a lawyer, Boulton has defended women who were sexually harassed in the workplace, and in the Senate has co-sponsored SF 2107 to require the perpetrators of sexual harassment and retaliation to repay the state for the damages they cause.
After failing to pass a meaningful water quality solution in the 2017 legislative session, Republicans passed weak legislation without accountability measures or a watershed approach in January, and once again refused to fund the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Trust Fund, which Iowans voted in support of by over 60% at the ballot box in 2011. To ensure Iowa’s environment is sustained for future generations, Boulton knows Iowa must take immediate action to clean up the waterways and protect topsoil across the state. This will secure future farmers’ land and allow Iowa to continue to market natural resource tourism.
Iowa is already a global leader in wind and solar energy and, as Governor, Boulton would invest in renewable resources. By building wind turbines and solar panels in Iowa and continuing research into new technologies, our state can continue to be a leader in renewable fuels and energy production while also creating skilled jobs expansion for our state. Boulton has committed to creating 50% of Iowa’s energy from renewable energy by 2025. To begin action to clean up our waterways and ensure Iowa is a leader in combating climate change, Boulton introduced two bills already.
Increase solar tax credit: SF97 will ensure Iowa remains a solar energy leader by increasing the amount of solar energy system tax credits that may be claimed annually.
Fund IWILL: SF 167 will fund the water and land trust to create a sustainable funding source to begin cleaning up Iowa’s waterways through buffer zones and other conservation practices.
Boulton believes health care in a right, not a privilege, and is dedicated to ensuring Iowans in every county have access to quality, affordable, comprehensive health care. The privatized Medicaid system that Branstad initiated has failed Iowans since it began, but Governor Reynolds defends it every time a new shortcoming comes to light. Boulton has been a strong advocate for returning to the previous fee-for-service program. He’s co-sponsored the following bills to address the Medicaid mess and expand health insurance to Iowa children:
End privatized Medicaid: SF 2058 will terminate the managed care organizations contracts and end privatized Medicaid.
Expand HAWK-I: SF 2112 will expand HAWK-I, Iowa’s children’s health insurance program, so more children in Iowa could be covered by health insurance.
When Republicans introduced the bill to defund Planned Parenthood in 2017, Boulton was a leader in the debate, fighting to sustain the funding for essential reproductive health care for Iowa women. Since the bill’s passage, four Planned Parenthood clinics have closed in Iowa with no replacement like Republicans promised. Boulton will fight to bring funding back to Planned Parenthood in Iowa as Governor.
When the Branstad administration shut down the mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant, Nate took the administration all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court to fight for the patients who were displaced and the professionals who lost their jobs. The mental health crisis in Iowa is encroaching on law enforcement and teachers, and immediate action is needed to treat symptoms so Iowans living with chronic mental illness can remain productive members of society, and Iowans with acute cases can live lives safely and humanely. Boulton is a strong advocate for community-based care across the state and has introduced bills to provide care for Iowans with severe mental illness and substance abuse issues:
Reopen mental health institutes: SF 295 will reopen the facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. While reopening these facilities is important to take some stress of the entire system, Nate also believes in supporting and investing in community-based mental health care, making care more accessible for Iowans in every county.
Ensure Medicaid covers integrated health homes: SF 2055 will ensure that integrated health homes are suitable for Medicaid recipients living with mental illness.
Allow medical cannabis: SF 205 will allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis, rather than addictive opioids, which are killing hundreds of Iowans every year as more and more individuals become addicted to narcotic pain medications.