During the fifth week, the Senate passed the education funding bills. These bills together mean approximately $90 million in increased funding for Iowa schools. I am confident this amount is sustainable and responsible, allowing to prioritize K-12 education and ensure money remains to fund other priorities, like public safety and easing the tax burden on Iowans.
The passage of another bill continues to close the gap in equalizing the amount of funding the state sends per student to different districts. It completes the promise to Iowa schools to level the playing field when it comes to costs associated with transporting students to school. This policy has been a priority for several years, and I am proud we were able to deliver fully on this promise.
Unemployment in Iowa has been below 3 percent for more than two years. This is great news for Iowans looking for work and it is a validation of the economic policies implemented during my time in the legislature. However, the low unemployment rate is one of the primary concerns noted by employers looking to fill positions in their businesses.
In an effort to address the need for a larger workforce in Iowa, the Senate has offered two new bills designed to increase the number of Iowans in the workforce, ensure welfare programs exist for those truly in need, and protect the taxpayers who fund those programs.
Another bill implements work requirements for able-bodied recipients of taxpayer-funded health care. It also updates state law to conform to the change in work requirements for food assistance required by the US Department of Agriculture.
Work requirements for food assistance have a track record of success. While Iowa has maintained work requirements for many years, adhering to the federal policy expanding those requirements should produce growth in the workforce.
The general goals of these reforms are to increase the workforce and continue to expand Iowa’s economy. The specific goal is to improve lives, one family at a time, by encouraging them to experience the inherent dignity and rewards of hard work.
Voting is a fundamental, constitutional right granted to citizens of the United States. That right has always been extended only to U.S. citizens and it is time the Iowa Constitution clearly states that intention.
Some local officials in Iowa have publicly discussed the possibility of allowing non-citizens to vote in municipal elections. A basic rationale for being a citizen or becoming a citizen of this country is the privilege to have a voice in determining its elected officials. It is common sense for Iowans to expect to have only U.S. citizens determine the direction of our country and not allow foreign interference.
An amendment to the Iowa Constitution will ensure only U.S. citizens can participate in elections held in the state of Iowa. It is a short, simple proposed amendment to state, “only” a United States citizen is eligible to vote in Iowa elections. The bill also conforms to the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was ratified in 1971.
Next week is the first legislative deadline of the year, meaning priority legislation, with the exception of bills in Appropriations, Government Oversight, and Ways and Means, must be moved out of committee by Friday.
As always…. From the Ground Up.