Education, job training can turn Iowa economy around
Last week, we learned that Iowa faces a $131 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and less growth than expected next year.
The state wouldn’t be in this position if Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds and the Legislature had adequately invested in education, job training and quality-of-life initiatives that allow hard-working Iowans to get ahead.
Iowa employers have been saying for years that their biggest challenge is getting enough skilled workers to fill job openings. We can fix this, but we need to get moving because 68 percent of Iowa workers will need a college degree, certification or industry-recognized credential by 2025 to work in health care, education, finance, insurance, manufacturing, STEM and other high-skill occupations.
Let’s change course and make working families a priority again by:
• Investing in K-12 schools and preventing more school closures, especially in small towns and rural areas
• Keeping down the cost of college and job training
• Making health care accessible to all Iowans
• Increasing the minimum wage
• Ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work
• Ending wage theft so that workers get paid what they’re owed
• Making child care more affordable
• Ensuring small businesses, working families and homeowners can make ends meet
• Re-examining tax breaks for big, out-of-state corporations
Unfortunately, the Governor, Lt. Governor and too many legislators are focused this year on bills that make Iowa a less attractive place to live, work and raise a family, including:
• Shortchanging public schools, which may force consolidation of small districts, bigger class sizes, teacher layoffs and fewer learning opportunities (SF 166).
• Gutting the bargaining rights of 180,000 public workers (HF 291).
• Lowering wages for 65,000 Iowans (HF295).
• Lowering wages for construction workers and importing materials from China and other countries instead of using goods made in the U.S.A. (HF203).
• Imposing deep, mid-year cuts that hurt hard-working Iowans because budget priorities are out of whack (SF 130).
• Siding with big business over Iowans who become sick, disabled or injured through no fault of their own (SF 376, SF 465, HF 518).
– Sen. Rich Taylor represents Iowa Senate District 42, which comprises Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties.