2017 Iowa Legislature: Closing Remarks
By House Democratic Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown)
Thank you Madam Speaker.
First, I want to thank the members of my caucus for sticking together this year and being a strong voice for the thousands of Iowans we represent.
On behalf of my caucus, I also want to thank the House Democratic Staff – Joe, Anna, Rachelle, Kelsey, Dave, Zeke, Bill, Joe, Brian, Jake and Dean — for all their work this session. And thanks to our page this year, Abbi Denner. We wish you well in your studies at the University of Iowa.
I also want to thank all the non-partisan staff who work behind the scenes to keep this place running. Your hard work does not go unnoticed.
When the session began, I told you Democrats in this chamber were ready to work together with the majority party to make progress for all Iowans again.
But Republicans chose a different path this session. And Iowans noticed.
Instead of working with us, Republicans chose to pursue a divisive, partisan agenda that Iowans expect to see in Washington, DC, but not here in our State Capitol.
Iowans came to the Capitol in record numbers this year for public hearings, rallies, and to have one-on-one conversations with lawmakers. Even more turned out at forums across the state to hold Republicans accountable and make sure their voice was heard.
Iowans have every right to be frustrated with the broken promises Republicans made to the people of Iowa.
Republicans promised to raise family incomes by 25%, but lowered wages for 65,000 Iowans instead.
Republicans said public schools were a priority last fall on the campaign trail, but they shortchanged public schools again this year with the third lowest increase in Iowa history.
Republicans talked about growing our economy, but made it more difficult for Iowans to get the skills they need to land a good-paying job.
Republicans said they would be fiscally responsible, but today the state budget has a $130 million deficit and Iowans are being forced to pay for the GOP’s budget mess.
In addition to the broken promises, Republicans stacked the deck against everyday Iowans who are working hard but still not getting ahead.
Now, the mom in Decorah will have to travel over an hour to get the family planning and cancer screening services she used to get at her local clinic.
Now, the parents in Osage can’t make their own decision about a pregnancy that has gone horribly wrong.
Now, the family from Peosta who just learned yesterday that the first kid in their family to attend college at the University of Iowa in the Fall will have to pay higher tuition.
Now, the first grade teacher in Windsor Heights no longer has a say on most of the issues that directly impact her own classroom.
Now, the correctional officer at the Anamosa State Penitentiary who served two tours of duty in Iraq is fearful for his own safety in the workplace because the prison is overcrowded and understaffed.
Now, the parents in Marion have to keep fighting the managed care company to make sure their son with disabilities gets the health care he needs.
Democrats will keep fighting to raise wages for Iowans, not lower them.
Democrats will keep fighting to expand job training opportunities and make higher education affordable, not more expensive.
Democrats will keep fighting to put women on an equal playing field with men, not let politicians make medical decisions for them.
Democrats will keep fighting to help working families get ahead, not take away their rights and stack the deck against them.
Democrats will keep fighting to make public schools first again, not shift resources away from them.
When push comes to shove, I have always put my faith in the good, hard-working people of Iowa who have been, for more than 65 years, my family, my friends, and my neighbors.
To you, I say this: you do not deserve this treatment.
House Democrats will not forget you, we will not desert you.
Thank you Madam Speaker.