CEDAR RAPIDS — The politics-as-usual approach to state government by Republicans and Democrats is unsustainable and hurting vulnerable Iowans, according to Jake Porter, a Libertarian who is joining the race for governor.
“We’re having this huge budget crisis, and I don’t see other candidates proposing real changes,” Porter said Tuesday.
Instead, Statehouse lawmakers and the governor are using the budget as a weapon, according to Porter, who will formally announce his candidacy on “The Simon Conway Show” on WHO Radio between 4 and 7 p.m. Thursday.
“They’ve decided we’re having a budget crisis, so we’re going to cut the services people use most, whether it’s mental health services, sexual abuse hotlines, domestic abuse shelters (or) hearing aids for kids,” Porter said.
“They’re not actually going after any of the waste that could easily be cut. They’re going after the things that are going to hurt the most people, probably as an excuse to raise the sales tax next year.”
Porter, 29, a Council Bluffs business consultant long active in the Libertarian Party, previously ran for secretary of state. He thinks his views and priorities are more closely aligned with voters than either the Democratic or Republican platform.
He wants to make medical cannabis available, restore voting rights for felons who have served their time, end corporate welfare, return Medicaid to its pre-privatization status and phase out the state sales tax.
He opposes corporate welfare on libertarian principles. It’s wrong, Porter said, to ask Iowans to pay millions of dollars to financially sound corporations. He singled out the Research Activities Credit that refunds tax money to corporations even if they have no tax liability.
“They’ve put the tax bill on the smallest Iowans and smallest companies,” he said. “I don’t think the state should favor one business over another.”
Porter called turning over Medicaid management to private companies an example of “big government cronyism” by former Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration. He would return management responsibility to the Department of Human Services “and then make improvements.”
The state has “messed around for far too long” while people who could benefit from medical cannabis have suffered, Porter said. While he would favor legalization of marijuana for recreational use, “I don’t think the Legislature is going to pass that.”
Despite the changes the Legislature has made, current law makes it difficult, nearly impossible, for Iowans who need cannabidiol to get it, he said.
As a Libertarian, Porter said, he would have the advantage of being able to work with and around the major political parties by using the governor’s bully pulpit to open a dialogue with voters and pressure lawmakers to act on his priorities.
“As governor, you can go around and talk about issues and you can pound the issues until (lawmakers) basically have to do something about it,” he said.
Porter said his campaign website, jakeporter.org, will go live Thursday afternoon.