Saturday, May 28, 2022

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High gas prices are not slowing down Memorial Day travel, early voting starts tomorrow in Nevada, and Oregon activists seek accountability for dioxin contamination in low-income Eugene.

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Education Secretary Cardona calls for action after the Texas massacre, Republicans block a domestic terrorism vote, and Secretary of State Blinken calls China the greatest challenger to U.S. and its allies.

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High-speed internet is being used to entice remote workers to rural communities, Georgia is offering Black women participation in a guaranteed income initiative, and under-resourced students in Montana get a boost toward graduation.

IA Lawmakers Urged to Prioritize Equity Over Controversy

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022   

Education reform and tax cuts were among the ideas in Gov. Kim Reynolds' Condition of the State address on Tuesday, but advocates for marginalized Iowans and working families say some priorities are out of touch with communities.

The governor's plans are consistent with those of GOP lawmakers, who control the Legislature.

Gary Sneller, a retired pastor from Cedar Rapids who works with the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa's Faithful Voices for Racial Justice project, said he wants Republicans to stop trying to intervene in school curriculum, pointing to last year's law banning the teaching of concepts dealing with racism or sexism.

"The human race is very diverse," he said, "and that, to me, is the foundational principle that needs to undergird our whole public education."

This session, Republican leaders have vowed to advance legislation that would prosecute educators who provide books deemed "obscene." Supporters say they want greater transparency about what's being taught - but opponents, including Democratic lawmakers, say there's already a process for dealing with these concerns. They add that the threat of prosecution would exacerbate teacher shortages.

Republican leaders also have consistently called for tax cuts, citing Iowa's budget surplus and the need for a more competitive tax rate. But Sneller said the state should reinvest the surplus in programs that help Iowans in need. He said it's counterproductive to not expand critical services.

"The goal is to continue to reduce the services by reducing taxes," he said, "without looking at what is it that we want as a society that benefits all of society, and not just a select group of society?"

Meanwhile, groups such as Progress Iowa have been holding events dubbed the "People's Condition of the State," in an effort to convey the need for this approach. Last year, Iowa adopted a separate plan to reduce taxes. The state has a surplus that budget forecasters say could be as high as $2 billion.

Disclosure: Progress Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Environment, Health Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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