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Public Employees

I was very troubled by the political motivations behind the elimination of collective bargaining and sweeping changes to Iowa Code Chapter 20 in the last 2017 legislative session.  It has become clear to me that there was an underlying need to use a long-standing political agenda to make these changes at the expense of public employees.

Public employees are not the problem.  Government bureaucracy IS the problem and it doesn't have to be.  Constituents want their government services when they need them and it takes public employees to make government work smarter and more efficient.  Reducing public employees as a “badge of political honor” is the wrong business model for serving Iowans.  Iowa government is severely hurting from a lack of essential positions needed in this state, from health and human services workers to follow-up on increased cases of suspected child abuse to state law enforcement and public safety support staff that provide emergency response to the public 24/7/365.  Many other agencies in state government are suffering the same shortage of essential personnel.

Had the changes to Chapter 20 in the collective bargaining bill come to my desk as governor, I would have vetoed it and sent it back to the legislature expressing my view that there are other areas to cut spending in state government than to put these symbolic means to cut spending on the back of our public employees.  State workers, in particular, pay their taxes, spend their money in Iowa, raise their families here just like everyone else.  Public workers, THE front-line workers, don’t get rich from being a state employee and most could get paid more in the private sector.  Many choose government because it is a sense of serving their fellow citizens and there is a pride that comes along with that commitment.

All public employees, municipal, county and state employees, can be assured that a Governor Ray will stand behind you and the hard work you do each and every day.  We will find ways to reduce unnecessary spending elsewhere in state government and ensure we have the help on the front lines to adequately accomplish the business of the people and to keep our state and local communities safe and well-served.

 

Public Safety – Law and Order – Law Enforcement Supporter – Mental Health Concerns in Iowa

As governor of Iowa, I will be an enthusiastic and ardent supporter of Iowa law enforcement every day.  I grew-up in a law enforcement family and have been around it for over 46 years and worked in it for three decades.  My grandfather, the late Story County Sheriff John P. Stark, taught me many lessons over the years and I learned a great deal from him in dealing with the public and what it means to be a public servant.  He was clearly the strongest role model in my life and the best mentor I could have had growing-up.  I certainly give much of my success in my career to watching and learning from him.

Our law enforcement and other public safety personnel (911 and police dispatchers, fire and EMS to name a few) are often the forgotten and under-appreciated first-responders.  All of them suffer from extreme amounts of stress and should have our unwavering support.  They certainly will have a Governor Ray standing with them and having their backs for the important work that they do each and every day for Iowans.

Mental health is one of the most dangerous issues facing law enforcement nationwide.  Those that know me well understand I have been concerned about this issue for sometime, long before it has gained some media attention lately, and I am deeply concerned that the state of Iowa has failed and minimized the need for appropriate handling of mental health treatment for Iowans.  Mental health is a serious issue and can be dealt with professionally and with the help of state resources.  We are often finding people with mental health issues that are draining our jail/prison resources and packing our court systems for non-violent crimes because they are not being helped with intensive professional therapy and medication.  This puts a strain on county sheriffs’ budgets statewide for holding and transporting mentally-ill inmates all over the state, taking time away from serious offenders and other important duties back home.  One of my goals is to create a task force of law enforcement officials, the state Department of Corrections and mental health experts to find a comprehensive solution to this growing problem.  Being able to keep unstable people off the street that may interact with law enforcement, and may pose a problem for their safety and that of the officer(s) that may encounter them, is a critical issue needing immediate attention.

I will support the best training for all of our law enforcement officers statewide, particularly our state Troopers, agents, and other state peace officers, and find ways to ensure they have the adequate resources, equipment and staffing to meet the needs of effectively serving the citizens of Iowa.

I support the death penalty for anyone convicted of killing a law enforcement officer.  While Iowa has not had the death penalty since 1965, I would support federal law changes allowing those charged with killing our law enforcers to be moved to federal prosecution so that a conviction can result in the federal death penalty rather than life in prison without parole under Iowa law.

 

Education – Agriculture – Economy - Environment

I believe education is the backbone to a successful society and to a robust economy.  We have some of the best and brightest children right here in the Iowa and their success in the classroom will only enhance the opportunities for Iowa to succeed in new and innovative ventures for the future.  I know I contribute my own success to the great teachers I was fortunate to have in the Boone Community School system.  Teachers are the key to this entire concept and I look forward to hearing from our educators as I travel the state during the campaign in the months ahead.  I want to be a governor successful in achieving the best possible educational advantages for our children.

I am a strong supporter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  These are critical curriculum to the success of a student's future.  However, the basic models of education such as history, language, writing, social studies and the arts cannot be lost either in their important role in the development of our children as they grow and learn.  I also believe strongly that as, historically, a farm state we must encourage agricultural studies as a priority, including agronomy-based studies as well as agri-business.  For that reason, STEM should also add an “A” and become STEAM.  Full STEAM ahead to ensuring agriculture studies are integral to our solid economic future for Iowa.  I am concerned about Iowa’s agricultural economy and I will make it a priority of working with our state’s secretary of agriculture to do what we can to boost the agricultural economy and support Iowa’s farmers.  I support Iowa family farm operations 100%.

Iowa’s economy and agricultural background are essential to keeping businesses and our younger generations in Iowa.  Iowa is so very capable of hosting a wide-array of economic variants.  We can sustain a great deal of industrial and technical infrastructure and we must be open to bringing what we can to Iowa to provide good jobs and reinvestment in our infrastructure while raising revenue for our state without raising taxes.  It’s all about good bargaining and agreements along the way.

I support alternative fuel resources such as wind and solar energy production, as well as ethanol production.  I also support the use of fossil fuels that are available in North America and can assist in weening our nation off the dependence of foreign oil as much as we can.

I will work hard every day as governor to ensure we are doing everything possible to keep Iowa’s economy strong and make this a state where new ideas come to our state and keep Iowa as a landmark state in the breaking-in of new ideas and technological innovations.

Preserving our beautiful land is paramount to our future.  I support clean water and air efforts.  We can all work together to keep our environment healthy for Iowans and for our flora and fauna.  Working hard in this area is a no-brainer and we can do it without being restrictive to businesses and local governments.  It takes a comprehensive, yet common sense approach to meet these objectives.

 

Safety of our Children

I have been actively involved in the safety of Iowa’s children since 2003 with the implementation of the Iowa AMBER Alert program.  I have been personally involved in nearly every AMBER Alert issued in this state in the past 14 years.  The safety of our children is paramount and is an issue extremely personal to me in ensuring our parents and their children know they can be safe in our state.

I support increased penalties for individuals who may be convicted of crimes such as abduction, on-line enticement, and sexual abuse, as a few examples.  We need to ensure these criminals are taken off the street and put away for a long time.  I support the death penalty for those convicted of killing a child.

The Iowa AMBER Alert program will always have my support and it is a great system and law enforcement tool that has resulted in the safe return of dozens of children in Iowa since 2003.  As governor, I would encourage the Iowa legislature to provide funding for the program to increase awareness, keep up with new technologies to enhance the program, and to provide annual training to all Iowa law enforcement on the program.

Human trafficking is a critical issue in our state.  We literally sit at the crossroads of two of the busiest interstates across the United States.  Many of the victims are children and what they go through at the hands of their captors is sickening.  I would support more efforts for enforcement of human trafficking laws and encourage our legislature to fund those initiatives at the state and local levels to the fullest. 

 

Iowa’s Veterans

I am proud of Iowa and of our nation we call home.  I have had many family members and friends that have served in our armed forces, and in combat, wearing proudly the uniform of the United States of America.  Because of their service, we enjoy the freedoms we experience every day (as do many around the world).

I am very concerned about how we are dealing effectively with the issues of our combat veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorders and with those who have received injuries, learning to adapt to those life-changing injuries once returning home.  There is no amount of money that can be put on the value of what each of our men and women contributed to serving our nation.  Iowa can do more to assist with services for those veterans who are experiencing these post-service issues.

As governor, I would ask the legislature to work with me to create a bonus program for military veterans.  I would be eagerly willing to work on a bipartisan level toward what that bonus program would look like and what the amount of money would be paid as a bonus to our Iowa veterans.  Certainly enlisted, in past or present service, combat veterans and all serving in active duty would all receive some form of bonus.  This is a small but important thanks we can provide our veterans for their sacrifice.  Every one of our veterans can certainly use a cash bonus to help them in many ways.  I fully support this effort and would make it an important initiative if I am elected governor.  Iowa has done a bonus in the past and other states do the same for their veterans.

 

Animal welfare and puppy mills

I am an animal lover and am completely disgusted by all forms of animal neglect.  Puppy mills are a concern for me and Iowa must reevaluate whether dog breeders who register with the USDA are exempt from licensing and inspection under Iowa law.

I would like to work with the legislature to ensure Iowa law can require dog breeders registered with the USDA be subject to state licensing and inspection.  Mills not subject to inspection can bring animals with genetic disorders and other diseases that purchasers may not be aware of until the animal gets older, all due to poor breeding practices.  This needs to be implemented in Iowa.  Those running a good, clean dog breeding operation would have nothing to be concerned about.

Cruelty to puppies and other domesticated pets should not be tolerated or ignored by the absence of law.  We have a number of great animals at shelters needing adopted and we cannot forget those already needing a good, loving home.

 

Budget and Taxes

I am a proponent of small, limited, yet effective government.  It is no secret that our state has experienced financial uncertainty for many years.  There have been budgets that have been made bare bones and just enough to get by while not using reserves to fill gaps.  Our general fund budget for FY18 is over $7.1 billion.

I don’t believe in using reserves to try and fill gaps that are known to continue without a permanent revenue solution.  However, I believe it is irresponsible in budgeting to not identify the root cause of shortfalls and find a way to fix the problem.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in raising taxes to simply fix that problem.  The top question is what is causing the drain and can changes in budget priorities alleviate it?

 After many years in government, I can guarantee you that budget priorities can be managed to avoid shortfalls.  There are always areas that can be trimmed without affecting personnel, essential positions and services.  In short, there is monetary waste each day in government and all it takes is the will to look at where it is and stop it.  This is something that can and will be done in my administration.

My first 100 days of governor will see an executive order directing the Department of Management and the Department of Administrative Services to complete a full top to bottom review of all departments and agencies in state government.  Their spending patterns will be reviewed, on what, for what reason and, more importantly, I will ask for all management positions to be reviewed and for their specific purpose, what the position does to support the department or agency’s mission and to supply a minimum of 5 criteria where the position provides essential functions for management and supervisory support.  If the set of criteria cannot be met, the position will be eliminated.  Front-line public employees are working hard and there are often real questions within government whether many management positions are needed or simply are just “occupied.”  My administration will get to the bottom of that age-old question and we will remove top-level waste where it is not needed.

Many state laws have affected the ability for local governments to maintain revenue, such as commercial roll-back.  While I support such tax roll-backs to support businesses, the state must ensure it is able to cover those shortfalls back to local governments.  A Ray administration will insist we continue to support our local governments and back-fill those shortfalls.  This ensures local taxpayers are also not footing the bill for local governments who see decreased revenue due to actions by the state legislature.

One of my top priorities as governor is to reevaluate all of Iowa’s critical infrastructure.  I will ask for a full review from bridges to culverts, especially across our more rural counties, and begin to establish a way to begin rebuilding our farm-to-market infrastructure to assist our farming operations and also continue to improve our state highways to ensure the best transportation and safety for our citizens.

 

Abortion

I was born and raised in the Catholic faith.  I am pro-life in my own beliefs.  I believe abortion simply as a late attempt at birth control is immoral and shows a complete lack of personal responsibility if the pregnancy was a result of poor planning and a failure to use birth control alternatives.  That being said, I do support a woman’s right to choose when it comes to pregnancy as a result of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is compromised by continuing the pregnancy.

Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land as interpreted by the United State Supreme Court since 1973.  Abortion, with the exception of laws that restrict its implementation due to the length of the pregnancy, or a waiting period, is legal and until the Supreme Court rules on the issue again, very little will change with it in the foreseeable future.  There certainly is not much a state governor can do to change the issue.  I do, however, support a waiting period for abortions to ensure the woman has sufficient time to think her decision through.  I also support a ban on abortions after a specific period of gestation has passed.  I will not support the use of tax dollars to subsidize women’s health clinics that perform abortions, however.  There are a number of taxpayers who are against abortion and using tax money for this purpose is not justifiable.  Abortion rights advocates have many wealthy supporters worldwide.  In my opinion, they can receive their funding from those wealthy donors who support their cause.

 

 2nd Amendment

I fully support the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution, unequivocally.  I oppose all laws, or any future laws, that shall restrict the rights of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their families.

Gun laws simply hurt those who will own and use firearms in a responsible manner.  Children of gun-owning parents also learn early how to respect firearms and use them responsibly.  Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  Criminals will always be able to obtain weapons, including firearms.  Attempting to keep them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens is wrong and clearly unconstitutional, in my opinion.

 

Gay Rights

Gay rights have been protected for a number of years under federal statutes and supportive rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In Iowa, gay marriage has been legal for several years.  It is my opinion, at a personal level, that I clearly have little care what two consenting adults choose to do in maintaining a relationship, including marriage. 

It matters little to me what personal opinions are on this matter.  The law of Iowa is what it is and, as the state’s chief executive, I would ensure the law is enforced and those rights will be maintained and protected under Iowa code.  A person’s sexual orientation shall never be an issue on any level in a Governor Ray administration.  There will be no attempts from my administration to change existing laws.

There are a number of conservative LGBT citizens who have long not felt at home in the Republican Party.  It is time that philosophy changes.

 

Healthcare

I support a comprehensive federal law covering healthcare. I believe, however, the current healthcare law (Obamacare) was ineffective at changing what was needed to care for Americans who need healthcare coverage and grew to be way too expensive, as predicted.

The first law that needs changed at the federal level is for health insurance to be able to be sold across state lines.  If this law was changed, it would immediately begin to drive down the cost of private health insurance premiums.

As governor, I would evaluate all aspects of healthcare reform and try to decide, with the legislature, the best course of action for Iowans for the best care at the most affordable price.

 

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Committee to Elect Steven Ray Governor
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