Hatch Shares His Vision For Iowa
Oskaloosa, Iowa – The race for Iowa Governor is now officially underway, and Iowa Senator Jack Hatch (D) is focused on toppling long-time Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R).
“Simply stated, I want Iowa to be a place where children don’t have to leave to come back. I want families to grow here, stay here and prosper. So it’s not a flyover state. It’s not a returning state. It’s a state that has all the amenities, all the strength for families and businesses.”
Hatch has been critical of Branstad and his administration since he announced his candidacy. “I don’t think this is the Terry Branstad that had been governor of the state for 16 years,” said Hatch.
“In their rush to make government smaller, or reduce government, he is now in the midst of multiple scandals. All saying he didn’t think he knew anything about it. Which either makes him incompetent or part of the problem. And he’s got to answer for all of that.”
“He’s been sued twice by legislators. Both found that he acted unconstitutional. He doesn’t seem to care. So he feels he’s above the law,” said Hatch.
Hatch said Branstad was first sued over Workforce Development Office closures. “Thirty-six of them. Twenty-six of them were in rural Iowa. And then the Supreme Court ruled he didn’t have the authority to do that because he used the money to do other things, which was against the intent of the legislature.” “But he didn’t care. By the time the court ruled, we were into another fiscal year.”
“Closing down the juvenile home, again the district court found that he acted unconstitutionally,” says Hatch.
“We have a governor that really is different than the last time he was in office. He has a limited agenda in a state that needs significant vision. Not so much government intervention, but tempting and leading and motivating people to do more to expand their businesses.”
Executive branches, such as those like Branstad and even presidencies like Barack Obama, can and often do become embattled with controversy. I asked Hatch about those oversight issues. “First of all, I would make a distinction between the problem Governor Branstad is having with President Obama.”
“I acknowledge that state government is the largest corporate size institution we have in the state. So it’s going to be hard to manage. There’s no question about that. But time and time again, when you have management that’s moved positions from merit positions to political positions, and then firing people, having them sign confidential agreements, paying them to be quiet, and then replacing them with friends, for more money and fewer qualifications, is a sense of corruption that is easy to correct.”
Upon asking Hatch about the settlements state workers received, and past administrations that also had agreements.
“You have confidential agreement settlements. That’s gone on in most institutions, organizations. Under Culver they had I think 6, adding to about $70,000 in settlements. $51,000 of that was negotiated by Bill Northey, the Secretary of Agriculture. Not under the Governor’s Office. So, Culver had less than ten to fifteen thousand dollars in five settlements,” says Hatch.
“Vilsack had fewer than that. Fewer settlements and like $18,000,” says Hatch.
Hatch stated, “That goes on when you have some situations you have to work on. But when you have 35 settlements, ranging well over half-a-million dollars, that’s taking advantage of a practice that may be manageable, may be acceptable, but it is not, under any circumstance, in the public sector to be approved. And for him to say he didn’t know anything about it, and he stopped it, doesn’t relieve the issue, that it was conducted under his administration. Under his authority and had to be under the leadership of somebody in the governor’s office. I don’t think we’ve heard enough of this.”
When it comes to a new administration, I asked Hatch how the state would change under his leadership.
“I’m not going to go into this administration thinking that the best way to solve problems is to cut government services without any reason or rational. We’re going to do it all openly; we’re going to do it all above water; we’re going to do it that follows public best practices,” said Hatch.
Hatch shared his economic vision for the state as well. He said that Branstad “bring[s] in smoke stacks, big corporations to move into the state and build plants.”
“I’m going to go to the smaller towns and big city neighborhoods and say: What do you want? You know to develop jobs here. How can government help you? How can we help you leverage your finances to increase the jobs you know are, have an opportunity here. Whether or not it’s your company, what do you need to bring people in, so Oskaloosa’s a place for people to live, so they can enjoy the kind of job you open. If we can create 5 or 6 jobs in these communities across the state, I’ll be creating thousands of jobs for the same amount of money that Governor Branstad has given to Orascom.”
Hatch has yet to name a running-mate, but he said he’s looking for, “First of all, the person really has to be capable of becoming governor at any moment. So it’s not an on-the-job training. It’s not somebody who’s politically attached so you have the political niceties of it. Somebody that can ascend to the governorship if something was to happen to me.”