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OTHER VOICES: Iowa taxpayers on the hook for Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Mexican border adventure

OTHER VOICES: Iowa taxpayers on the hook for Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Mexican border adventure

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Reynolds police bill

Gov. Kim Reynolds hands out bill-signing pens to cadets and public safety officers on June 17 at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston, Iowa, where she signed Senate File 342, a “back the blue” law that boosts support and legal protections for law enforcement as well as increases punishments for individuals convicted of rioting and crimes committed during protest activities.  

Gov. Kim Reynolds and her staff are running a shell game to obscure who’s paying for an Iowa State Patrol deployment to Texas. Iowa taxpayers are likely to be on the hook.

At the request of the governors of Texas and Arizona, Reynolds announced last month she would send state troopers to the U.S.-Mexico border amid a reported surge in illegal crossings. It’s believed to be the first time state police from Iowa have been sent on an out-of-state mission.

The officers will receive pay and there are additional expenses for travel and lodging. Texas has spent $3.5 billion sending its own state police to the border on various missions since 2014, according to Texas Monthly. The total cost of Iowa’s trip is unknown. So, who’s paying for it?

The border governors asked responding states to “absorb the associated costs with the mission.” Documents signed by Iowa officials state “Iowa is donating this resource” and their counterparts in Texas wrote “no cost to Texas.”

It appears that Iowans will foot the full bill, but the governor’s staff is reluctant to admit it. Her spokesman said Texas might end up covering some of the cost, the Associated Press reported. That seems like wishful thinking at best, or willful deception at worst.

It’s not clear what return Iowa will get on its investment. State officials have divulged almost no details about what troopers will actually be doing in the border zone. We know what they won’t be doing - their jobs back home in Iowa.

Just a month ago, Iowa launched a campaign to reduce fatalities on Iowa roads in light of a documented increase in risky driving habits. They said state troopers would lead the charge to keep our highways safe.

If Iowa can safely manage paying 5 percent of its troopers to go work in another state for two weeks, then maybe the force is 5 percent too large. Of course, no one in state government believes that. To the contrary, most lament that Iowa State Patrol is understaffed and enforcement in rural areas is too light.

This has all the markings of a political stunt, meant to take a stand against a president of the opposing party. It is not a legitimate public safety mission, and it’s unfortunate that Iowans will have to pay for it.

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