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June 10th, 2009

Candidate Op-Ed: Chris Rants

Families across our state sit down every night around their kitchen tables and share their hopes and concerns for the future. The question is, do they have more hope or concern?

Tonight, too many will express worry about what the future holds for their family finances. With over 80,000 Iowans out of work almost each of us knows someone who has lost a job, or is worried about it. That anxiety brings with it a lot of stress on a family, and I can relate to that. When I worked for Metz Baking Company back in the 1990s, our company went through a series of cuts as the company changed its business model under new management. I was fortunate. As the person in the company tasked with environmental compliance projects, there was no one else to merge my job with… but that didn’t stop me from worrying about it.

Today, Iowans need reassurance that our state can and will rebound from this recession, and that they will participate in that recovery. To do that Iowa needs a vision and a specific plan on how to increase the number of jobs with companies already here. Some things are simple; like coupling with the federal tax code on depreciation schedules. Others are more complicated, like reducing the property tax burden on commercial and industrial property. All it takes is a little planning, and all of us working together.

Here is an example of what we should be doing. Not today, and not tomorrow, but in the future there will be an up turn in revenues. There will be a strong sentiment to re-hire and re-fill all the employees and programs in state government that are being cut today. Yet, Iowa will be better positioned for the future if we look at something that will keep the recovery self sustaining – like planning now to put those dollars into a property tax reduction account.

Tonight, around other kitchen tables parents will be helping their children with homework. When Trudy and I look at the homework and textbooks our girls bring home we wonder if they are being properly prepared to enter the workforce. If my two daughters are going to compete for good jobs in the future, standards must be raised in the areas of math and sciences. For too long Iowa has been resting on its laurels, but our scores the last few years have fallen to 25th in the nation. While other states have raised standards, ours were laxed a year ago.

It’s in the interest of our children, yours and mine, that we expect more. Yes, it may mean battles with entrenched special interest groups – but too much is at stake not to take up the fight. Parents make the best decisions about their children’s education, and must be empowered to do so. They need more options, not fewer. Our teachers, and our students will meet the expectations set for them – so let’s make them high expectations.

Around those same kitchen tables a lot of Iowan’s are scratching their heads, and expressing frustration about the way our society is changing. We parents have to be on guard to what our kids are watching on tv, or seeing on the internet. Perhaps it’s in the attack on institutions – be they our churches or religious beliefs – that we hold dear. Many of us just feel somehow that things are, well, slipping away.

It’s imperative that those institutions be defended. Virtue and morality once lost as societal values are seldom regained. We shouldn’t shrink from standing up when we see our courts or our elected leaders lose their compass. This last year our Supreme Court and Governor lost theirs. That is why I lead the debate on the floor of the House; so that with our vote, yours and mine, we could help Iowa find its bearings again.

I’ve traveled the state for the last month listening to those concerns, and others as well. I believe that despite those challenges, there is great reason for hope and that opportunity awaits us if we have the vision and the desire to seize it. The 2010 election provides an opportunity for Republicans to chart a new course for Iowa. But to do so, we must show all Iowans that we won’t allow ourselves to be divided.

Republicans can be the party of new ideas on how to grow our economy, and at the same time be the party that believes in the sanctity of life. Republicans can be the party of honors our promise to defend traditional marriage, and at the same time honors our promise to protect the taxpayer from excessive spending.

One idea does not have to exclude the other. The fact is, Iowa families are talking about all of these issues around those kitchen tables. The challenge for us as Republicans is to talk about these issues (a) in a way that is relevant to them; (b) in the medium they are paying attention to; and (c) in a manner that gives them hope for the future, rather than fear.

I believe that if we Republicans hold together, and do those three things, 2010 will mark not just the re-emergence of the Republican Party in Iowa, but the start of a bright new future for our state, and new opportunities for her citizens.

Written by: Chris Rants

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The Iowa Republican

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