A strong Iowa economy starts with strong local schools
The quality of local Iowa schools is central to our state’s economic opportunity. From day one, a good education prepares Iowans for the workforce and assures businesses that Iowa has the talented employees they need.
That’s why I care so much about investing in student achievement and maintaining our great local schools. Governor Branstad was right to call for a predictable, stable and sustainable state budget. We need that predictability, stability and sustainability when it comes to local school funding.
If the state is an unreliable partner, we put student achievement at risk. Iowa’s parents, educators and students made that plain when they stood up for Iowa’s local schools last year. All Iowans—Democrats, Republicans and Independents—want our schools to be strong, now and in the future.
To ensure we achieve that goal, the Senate Education Committee has approved a 4 percent increase in basic state aid for Iowa’s K-12 schools for the 2013-2014 school year. After several tough years, this investment in our kids is definitely needed.
When we develop a balanced state budget, we’re setting priorities. Improving student achievement in a way that contributes to job creation and economic growth will continue to be a top priority for Iowans.
Iowa universities are key to economic growth
Iowa’s state universities are engines for economic growth.
Business support specialists from the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University recently talked with legislators about how the universities contribute to Iowa’s economic growth. Representatives from the University of Iowa will be on hand to describe their efforts next week.
The universities work with businesses on technology commercialization, marketing, entrepreneurship, and small business and community assistance.
MyEntre.Net is an online effort based at UNI that supports Iowa entrepreneurs. MyEntre.Net helps small business owners by providing interactive education, webinars, technical assistance and access to financial help. The site is a valuable resource to the 11,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners from all 99 counties who are currently enrolled in MyEntre.Net.
At ISU, the Institute for Physical Research & Technology uses a cost-sharing research fund to help new and existing industries grow and improve. It has worked with more than 575 companies and organizations.
These are just a couple examples of the innovative efforts of our universities to spur economic growth in Iowa. For more on the economic development work at our state universities, go to www.legis.iowa.gov/Schedules/committeeDocs.aspx?GA=84&CID=34
Governor signs National Guard tuition assistance
The first bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor this year will help our National Guard soldiers get the college tuition assistance they were promised.
When we learned that the dollars available for the Iowa National Guard tuition assistance program would fall short because of increased demand among returning soldiers, we invested an additional $1.3 million. The benefit to soldiers at Iowa’s universities will be up to $1,300 per semester in additional aid.
Helping Iowa’s returning soldiers attend college and improve their skills makes a lot of sense. We want these young people qualify for good jobs at good wages and help build a stronger Iowa economy.
Ensuring safety for Corrections workers
This week the Iowa Senate approved $8.5 million in additional funding for the Iowa Department of Corrections. The money will address urgent needs at prisons and community-based corrections facilities across the state. At issue are staff shortages that could threaten public safety, as well as the safety of prisoners and correction officers.
Help for my district from Senate File 2071 includes additional resources of $492,704 for Community-Based Corrections in the Eighth Judicial District.
The legislation now goes to the Iowa House.
Around the district
Burlington woman appointed by governor
Congratulations to Rhonda Reif from Burlington on her recent appointment to the Massage Therapy Board. Iowa’s boards and commissions help advise the Legislature and Governor on issues of statewide importance.
Columbus Junction receives Safe Routes to School funding
The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved funding for Safe Routes to School program projects. Columbus Junction was awarded $87,500 for sidewalk extension projects, which will help keep our kids safe as they travel to and from school. The Safe Routes to School program was created to increase the number of children safely walking and bicycling to school.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601