DAVENPORT -- Iowa would reverse the year-old limits on collective bargaining rights for public employees, start a new family and medical leave plan for workers around the state and raise the minimum wage under an agenda Democratic candidate for governor Nate Boulton unveiled this week.
Boulton, a state senator from Des Moines, is one of seven candidates for the party's nomination for governor. And his plan is an attempt to lay out a vision for Iowa.
"We are entitled to a better path forward for our state," Boulton said in an interview Wednesday.
In releasing the plan, Boulton's campaign said he would seek to implement it in his first legislative session if elected.
The agenda essentially packages a number of proposals he and other Democrats have introduced in the Republican-controlled Legislature that have gone nowhere.
The proposals include reversing the move to put the state's Medicaid program under the management of private insurance companies and closing the state-run mental health institutions.
Democrats have roundly criticized Gov. Kim Reynolds and her predecessor, Terry Branstad, for the moves. Many of Boulton's proposals also mirror what other Democrats running for governor have campaigned on.
The family and medical leave proposal in Boulton's plan would offer 12 weeks for families in the event of illnesses or the birth of a child. It would be paid for with employer and employee contributions to a state fund.
Boulton also has proposed a review of state credits and exemptions, which he says costs $600 million a year. He said eventually that could be pared by $200 million to $300 million.
Republicans were critical of the plan. Jesse Dougherty, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa, said, "the release of Nate Boulton's plan was an opportunity to reveal his vision for the state, yet reading through the plan reveals his ideas are the same ones voters have rejected at the ballot box time and time again."
Boulton's plan says he would raise the minimum wage to $10.75 by 2019 and then seek an increase to $15 by 2024. One of his rivals, union leader Cathy Glasson, of Coralville, has called for getting to $15 faster.
Boulton, though, says it will take a change of control in the Legislature to move to a higher level.
The plan also would provide state incentives for local school districts for pre-school and lower, by a year, the required age for kindergarten to 5 years old. It also would go in a different direction on improving water quality, backing a 3/8 of a cent increase in the state sales tax. The governor recently signed legislation using existing revenues to pay for water quality steps.