Reynolds Stops In Oskaloosa On ‘Unleashing Opportunity’ Tour

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds stopped in Oskaloosa on Saturday as part of her "Unleashing Opportunity' tour.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds stopped in Oskaloosa on Saturday as part of her ‘Unleashing Opportunity’ tour.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds made a stop in Oskaloosa on Saturday morning as part of her ‘Unleashing Opportunity’ tour. The tour is a followup to her Condition of the State address last week.

Rep. Guy Vander Linden introduced the governor to a crowd of approximately 100 individuals, who came to listen and ask questions of Iowa’s first woman governor and to understand what her vision is for Iowa.

Reynolds says her vision for Iowa is one that is “overflowing with opportunity. Where everyone has the opportunity to succeed regardless of gender, or race, or zip code.”

Reynolds said her vision includes expanding workforce education and training through programs like K-12 work-based learning programs.

Also included in the expanding workforce education vision is to create a scholarship for Iowans who decide to pursue up to a 2-year degree in a high-demand field, such as nursing or skilled trades. Expanding apprenticeship programs to help employers grow their workforce.

Reynolds told those in attendance that education would continue to be a priority of her administration. “We also have to be very careful, I think, of not falling into the trap where we measure the quality of our education by the sheer numbers.”

Reynolds said that if “we’re not focused” on preparing Iowa’s young people for the future, “then we’re failing.”

Reynolds said that the economy and workforce demands in Iowa continue to change, and she believes that education needs to change as well. “The biggest barrier to economic growth right now, as I talk to job creators as I travel all across the state, is people. They are optimistic about the future.”

Reynolds says those job creators need people to help fill jobs “available right now.” Reynolds added that it’s 127,000 Iowans that need the opportunity to help provide a skill to “land a great paying job.”

Reynolds also touched on her financial plan for the state, which includes reducing individual income tax rates, modernizing Iowa’s tax code, which includes changing the federal tax deductibility, and the creation of a bi-partisan commission to review Iowa’s tax credit.

Reynolds said she is working with the legislature to address the collapse in the healthcare marketplace, in which Iowa has seen a decline from nine carriers to just a single carrier of healthcare coverage, with increases up to 57% for premiums.

Reynolds said that small businesses and start-ups “are just priced out of the market.”

Putting a short-term, affordable option for healthcare is something Reynolds says she will be working with the legislature to put in place for the approximately 17,000 Iowans “who are just priced out of the market.”

“My vision is to give the people of Iowa a place to call home, that absolutely unleashes opportunities at every turn,” said Reynolds in conclusion of her opening remarks.

Reynolds took questions from those in attendance, with one of those being focused on education in Iowa.

A teacher in attendance asked Reynolds about cutting taxes “and how will you then fund things that are currently being majorly underfunded, like education and mental health care and roads?”

Reynolds responded by saying that “Education is at an all-time high”, saying that over 700 million dollars of new money has been allocated to the education of Iowa’s children in the K-12 system over the past seven years. “If you look at the report that was done looking ten years back, there are only three other states that have increased the number of funding for education than Iowa.”

Reynolds says that the TLC or Teacher Leadership Compensation program “that educators all the across the state are embracing, is keeping our teachers and educators in the system instead of seeing them leave 5 years into their profession. It gives them additional responsibility to move into leadership positions and to help provide real-time professional development in a classroom with their peers.”

“As a teacher, I beg to differ with that because I’m seeing something very different in our classrooms every day and I assure you we are underfunded,” replied the area teacher to Reynolds.

Reynolds, who spoke with the Teacher of the Year when education reform was initiated, and according to Reynolds, the teacher called the program, “the most transformational that has happened to education… It has made such a difference in the profession by giving educators the opportunity.”

Local Oskaloosa attorney Eric Palmer addressed Reynolds about water quality in the state, and how the programs to provide clean water will be funded from the state’s budget.

Palmer referenced the “Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Act” Constitutional Amendment passed in 2010 and put into law in 2011, that if or when sales tax was increased in Iowa, 3/8 of that new penny would be allocated to fund to provide recreational outdoor activities. It would be designated to help conserve agricultural soils in the state, while helping to clean up waterways.

The amendment passed in Iowa with a 63% vote in favor.

Sales tax hasn’t been increased since the amendment was passed, and without that increase the fund isn’t receiving any dollars to fund the measure.

Palmer says the tax would generate 150 to 180 million dollars per year, with 60 percent going to water quality initiatives. “It’s not a band-aid, it’s a good idea.”

“Let’s pass this and fix the water quality problem,” said Palmer to Reynolds.

Reynolds said that the state’s budget is currently being negatively impacted by low commodity prices.

Reynolds also said that consumer habits have changed and with that the way they purchase goods, which are often from online retailers. Many of those sites don’t collect sales tax, and Reynolds says that sales tax revenue has remained “stagnant and starting to decline because more and more individuals are purchasing online. And so we need to modernize our economy and have it reflect how Iowans and how Americans are purchasing products today.”

Reynolds said even though “it is still tough at the time, we’re still experiencing growth. It’s just not as robust as the revenue estimating conference had projected.”

Reynolds said there is 600 million dollars in the state’s savings account, “it’s there to help us get through some times just like this. That’s why it’s important that we look for some opportunities to grow our economy.”

Reynolds is confident that the economy will pick up, and points to recent tax reform passed at the federal level. “You’re seeing companies increase their wages. You are seeing them give bonuses. You’re seeing Apple bring development back into the United States and are repatriating their dollars. ”

“We’re seeing those type of businesses doing that here in Iowa,” added Reynolds. “That’s an opportunity for us to grow the economy.”

Reynolds took another 10 minutes of questions from those in attendance before preparing to leave for Ottumwa and another stop on her tour.



Posted by on Jan 22 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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