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Governor Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State address on Tuesday night included a proposed Students First scholarship program for eligible public school parents who would move to an accredited nonpublic school. These scholarships are essentially “Education Savings Accounts,” which the Catholic bishops have supported for many years.

The scholarship would be about $5,400 and public school students (including all incoming kindergarteners from private preschools) with a family income of less than 400% of the federal poverty level would be eligible to apply. Public school students with an individualized education plan would also be eligible. There would be a limit of 10,000 scholarships.

Under the plan, all school teachers, including those in accredited nonpublic schools, would be eligible for a $1,000 bonus if they stay employed at a school next year.

The governor proposed increasing public school funding by 2.5%.

The governor also recommended a reduction of state income taxes to a 4% flat rate by 2026 and eliminating the retirement income tax. Iowa has a general fund balance of $1.24 billion and nearly $1 billion in cash reserves.

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Several bills related to verifying eligibility for government assistance were introduced. The ICC will be monitoring the bills for their impact on those who need the help. We agree that only those who qualify should receive benefits.

Lt. Governor Adam Gregg signed a proclamation marking January as Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. ICC staff had a chance to meet with members of the Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. The coalition was founded in 2014 by five congregations of women religious: Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of St. Francis, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters and Sisters of Mercy.

Franciscan Sister Mary Lechtenberg is a co-chair of the coalition and received an award from the Network Against Human Trafficking at the proclamation signing.

There was also an announcement about a new alliance being formed: Iowa Businesses Against Human Trafficking. Every business in the state is invited to join the effort.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Human Traffickers use the same underground ‘railroad’ as the drug smugglers. Imagine if every business in the state were to use Random Drug Testing and E-Verify. What a wonderful World that be…

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