Johnson County and Iowa City have each released online surveys asking for public input on how they should invest millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan money.
We encourage you to make your views known by completing both surveys (link to Iowa City survey and Johnson County survey). Before you do, we want to give you our analysis of the major flaws in each survey and suggestions for how to fill them out in a way that supports those who are most in-need and who took the most risk for the least pay.
Our topline recommendations: Prioritize negative economic impacts, disparities and premium pay choices. In the comments section, direct them to fund excluded and essential workers (the people who kept our society running during the pandemic but were left behind). To maximize your emphasis, you can leave the other program options blank.
Both surveys are only accessible online through English-language websites, which is biased against low-wage essential workers of color, immigrants, and refugees. They are not a substitute for in-person public hearings where workers can testify in their primary language alongside friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers.
Johnson County Survey Questions #1-6 ask for your own unique demographic data. 'Essential Worker' means you work in person in a factory, grocery store, restaurant, warehouse, school, hospital, etc; and could not transition to work from home.
The Iowa City city survey is only four questions long, two of which are designed to prohibit people from participating who work and spend money in Iowa City and contribute to its economy but do not live inside city limits. If you answer No to the first question, or enter a zip code outside of Iowa City limits for the second question, you will not be permitted to finish the rest of the survey.
For Johnson County Survey Question # 8 and Iowa City Survey Question # 3 - the most important choices are “Premium pay for essential workers” (both surveys), “address the negative economic impact” (county survey) and “address the economic disparity in households” (city survey).
To maximize your emphasis, you can leave the other program options blank so we only give clear direction on the most pressing priorities and unmet needs. Revenue losses from the pandemic are negligible and will rebound next year. Businesses, infrastructure, and broadband have all already received funding through other relief programs. The best answers to addressing poverty and the economic recovery are to get more money directly to the people who need it most.
For Johnson County Survey Question #7 and Iowa City Survey Question #4 - we recommend you write something like, “Addressing negative economic impacts means putting money directly into the back pockets of the essential and excluded workers who need it most but who received the least support. It’s the right thing to do and the most effective way to address poverty and aid the recovery. Addressing negative economic impacts and disparities does not mean giving even more handouts to politically-connected businesses.”
Johnson County Survey Question #9 is an attempt to marginalize the voices of grassroots community groups and organized people. This shouldn't have to be an either/or answer. Our opinions may reflect the opinions of others, including organized workers, but each one still matters. We recommend you fill out the bubble “My responses reflect my individual opinion.”
Johnson County and Iowa City aren’t doing enough to make sure essential and excluded workers can fully participate in the investment decisions that affect their lives.
But we are going to continue to organize the community so that directly impacted people can make their voices heard.
Can you help us take action by filling out these two surveys today?