Deidre DeJear: Using Iowa’s ‘Trust Fund’ to Fund Mental Health and Education
Iowa needs to use its budget surplus to address mental health and public education shortages, Deidra Dejar, the Democratic nominee for governor, said Saturday.
DeJear spoke with a group of more than 50 people gathered at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair. The state is underfunding both public education and mental health, she said, and government funding needs to be used to help Iowans in need.
“We need leadership that makes better use of resources rather than avoids problems,” says DeJear. “Recognizing the challenges that exist is a point of strength.”
One of those challenges, she said, is to bring back quality public education. Iowa was once number one in education, but recent budget cuts are hampering the state’s public schools. But Democrats say they haven’t kept up with rising inflation.
DeJear’s opponent, Gov. Kim Reynolds, also made a big splash in the campaign this season by drafting a bill that would provide taxpayer-funded scholarships for Iowa students to attend private schools. I was. Reynolds has no plans to speak at Soapbox.
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DeJear said the lack of investment in education is hurting not only students, but also Iowa’s economy. She said the lack of funding for Iowa’s childcare and higher education systems forced parents to stay home and students couldn’t afford classes to develop job skills, so some Iowans kept away from the labor force.
Despite its current problems, the history of Iowa’s public schools, from the highest levels to desegregation, shows that Iowans are not complacent, said DeJear.
“As Iowans, we know it’s not our place and our children don’t deserve it,” she said.
Children in Iowa are underserved by state mental health resources, she said. I shared the story of the 17 year old I took. The family was told that he would have to wait six months to see a psychiatrist or that he would have to travel nearly five hours from Dubuque to Sioux City for inpatient treatment.
The state has fewer than 600 mental health beds for a population of over 3 million, which is too few, DeJear said. She told reporters that states should open more important mental health care access points. I asked. This is where people with mental health crises can get help without being hospitalized.
Only two of these access centers have been opened, according to DeJear. Iowa should open her four remaining centers and use the surplus funds to improve mental health resources in other states, she said.
“We’re not bankrupt either. $1.5 million of taxpayer money is held in what this current governor calls a ‘trust fund,'” DeJear said. “I’m of the mindset that you have to be in a privileged position to have a trust fund. It’s the Rainy Day Fund in Iowa, and it’s raining in our state.”
See what other candidates said at the State Fair here.