What is the most important trait an elected official can possess?
The ability to listen to those they serve – no matter what their viewpoint may be.
As this legislative stalemate lingers on with no firm budget and property tax reform agreement yet reached, both Republicans and Democrats have been holding forums and hearings to take input on some of the legislative proposals that could be part of the final budget deal.
However, the differences in the Republican events and Democrat events have been rather remarkable and are illustrative of the core differences in the two parties.
On one hand, Governor Branstad and legislative Republicans have been traveling the state, going to communities from border to border, in order to gather input from Iowans of all ages, political persuasion and career background. These town meetings have been open to the public and have provided a tremendous venue for citizens to make comments and ask serious questions about the future of the state.
On the other hand, Senate Democrats have been holding meetings inside the Capitol in Des Moines with rigid agendas full of handpicked speakers. The vast majority of the speakers have been local government officials, state agency bureaucrats or individuals from groups heavily reliant on taxpayer funds. Meanwhile, the opportunity for comment from the general public during these events, if you are not on the invited speaker list, has been virtually non-existent.
Republican Senator Jack Whitver of Ankeny attended the Democrats’ hearings on property taxes this week and summed up the event agenda well during a comment to the media, “I was extremely disappointed to see that no individual taxpayer or small business owner will speak today about any of the proposed tax plans. The agenda appears to include only government officials. Though I’m here with an open mind, the agenda leads me to believe the discussion will be one-sided and lead to a predetermined conclusion.”
Senate Republicans believe it is important that all Iowans have their voices heard – not just those who work in or closely with government. That is why Republicans have traveled the state welcoming all Iowans to step forward and share their thoughts.
During the last few months, Senate Republicans have heard from literally thousands of Iowans from every corner and county in this state on a whole range of issues.
The overwhelming message we have heard has been a reflection of what the 2010 election was all about: government is too big, too out-of-touch and it is increasingly out-of-control.
Whether it be through public forums, one-on-one visits in our communities, e-mails, phone calls, letters in the mail or even Facebook messages, Iowans have urged us to put Iowa back on a sustainable budget path, hold the line on spending, reduce the tax burden, eliminate the massive debt, put the focus back on private sector job creation and keep our promises to Iowans on the priorities they care most about.
Republicans have heard your message and we share your views. We have an overarching belief that the strength of our state lies not in the size of the government but in the well-being of our people.
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