Minimum wage tops priority list for 2017 session
After gridlock for nearly a decade, a group of Iowa lawmakers said this week that raising Iowa’s minimum wage should be one of the top priorities of the 2017 legislative session. There are over 216,000 Iowans who earn the minimum wage and 90,000 Iowans who would indirectly benefit from an increase.
Over the last 30 years, the minimum wage has failed to keep up with the struggles working families are facing. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would currently be $10.74 an hour. The current wage of $7.25 has 78 percent of the purchasing power it did in 1968.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of minimum wage workers are not teenagers. Eighty-one percent of workers benefiting from the wage increase are over 20 years old. In Iowa, 58 percent of minimum wage workers that will benefit from an increase are women. The new money injected into the economy would lead to an estimated 1,400 new jobs.
Last session, several lawmakers introduced a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25, Iowa’s current minimum wage, to $10.10 over several years’ time. This plan was not considered by Republicans in the Iowa House. Because of these roadblocks at the State Capitol, several Iowa counties have taken it upon themselves to raise the minimum wage themselves. The board of supervisors in Johnson, Wapello and Linn counties have all voted to raise the minimum wages in their respective counties.
Student financial applications to start Oct. 1
College students and those attending college next year, will be able to file for free for college financial assistance starting Oct. 1. The previous start date for the application known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, was Jan. 1.
The U.S. Department of Education adopted the new start of the application which allows families file the FAFSA earlier and use their last year’s tax information. This would allow the ability for students to have an idea of their financial aid packages earlier in the college application process. Up until now, aid offers generally arrived in mid-spring, about a month before students have to make an enrollment decision.
Some colleges have moved up their deadlines and release their aid offers months earlier, and the Iowa College Student Aid Commission have matched their aid programs to the Oct. 1 start time. However, since not all colleges are doing that, the burden will mainly fall on students to keep track of where the colleges are that they have applied for.
– State Rep. Curt Hanson represents Iowa House District 82, which includes most of Jefferson County and Davis and Van Buren counties, in the state Legislature.