Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State Address on Tuesday night. Reynolds struck a positive tone after a rough 2020.
“It’s been a year—and I’ll let you fill in whatever adjective you want,” Reynolds said. “Covid-19. Civil Unrest. A drought. A derecho. We’ve been beaten and battered in about every way imaginable and some unimaginable. But together, we’ve met every challenge with bravery and outright grit.”
Despite the challenges, Reynolds said Iowans “went beyond Iowa nice.”
“You showed a humanity that rivals what most of us have seen in our lifetime,” she said. “Our job now is to hold on to that humanity. 2020 left its mark on everyone, but not evenly. There are people across this state who are still hurting. Many lost their job or their business or even their home.”
Iowa, Reynolds said, is coming back strong.
One of the first things she called for is universal broadband.
“As we’ve seen during the pandemic, high-speed internet is as vital to our communities as running water and electricity,” she said. “If they don’t have it, they can’t grow.”
Reynolds called for committing $450 million by 2025 in an effort to provide every part of Iowa with affordable, high-speed broadband.
Childcare was the next area of focus Reynolds hit, noting that parents struggled to find care for their children and still show up for work in 2020.
She is allocating $3 million to start public-private partnerships to address the concern. There will also be $25 million of childcare development block grants to promote childcare startups.
After last year’s passage of licensing reform, Reynolds said there will be a review of Iowa’s licensing boards and commissions to ensure they are serving their purpose.
Education was a key issue as well. Reynolds called for every high school student to have an opportunity for work-based learning experiences.
In addition, she wants to see the legislature pass a bill giving parents the choice to send their child back to school full time.
“We can’t wait any longer,” she said. “Our kids can’t wait any longer. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about education, it’s that our parents need choice. And it’s not just in-person versus virtual. Sometimes it’s about which school to attend altogether.”
Reynolds went down the social justice path after that, noting the “overwhelming call” for racial justice in 2020.
She will be introducing a bill that “protects law enforcement and continues to march toward racial justice.”
The bill will ban racial profiling and other forms of “disparate treatment.”
Reynolds also discussed affordable housing, healthcare, rural EMS services and mental health.
Reynolds asked Iowans to not forget their neighbors who are hurting. And to be better, think bigger and be bolder.
“Let’s not return to normal,” she said. “Let’s be better. If anything, this year has shown us what we can accomplish, and how fast we can do it. Hold onto that spirit. To that ingenuity and collaboration. To the feeling that we’re working for the greater good, and not ourselves.”