Dan Huseman, Week 6 — February 16, 2017

The weather seems to have moderated across Iowa, and I don’t hear anyone complaining. The warm temperatures and lack of snow are most welcome as there will be a lot of people travelling during the next few weeks. For example, the state wrestling tournament takes place in Des Moines this week, and the basketballers are at it in full swing. Best wishes to all of the young people who are participating in all types of activities. Just a little teaser for the linksters in Northwest Iowa—Some of the golf courses in Des Moines opened this week as well.

Collective bargaining for Public Sector Employees has been taking up a considerable amount of time this week. The public had a special opportunity to give oral arguments about how they felt regarding the changes in the Chapter 20 Code, in a public hearing on Monday night. This specific section of Code hasn’t had a thoughtful review in over four decades.

Public sector workers are invaluable to our state in innumerable ways, and they are some of the most difficult jobs around. Because we recognize the important work public employees do, the proposed changes to Chapter 20 have been carefully weighed and subjected to the full legislative process. The bill is still being debated, so more details will be available when the bill passes both the House and Senate.

A new study put out by the Department of Education last week provides proof of the impact that Iowa’s Community Colleges have on the state’s economy. It points to a contributed $5.4 billion in income — the equivalent of creating 107,170 new jobs.

I have been a strong supporter of Community Colleges over the past 7 years, knowing the good work they do on behalf of Iowa’s students and continuing workforce needs. Community Colleges weathered a $32 million reduction in state funding during the 2008 recession ($180 million to $148 million from 2009 to 2010). Since 2011, we have increased general fund appropriations to the community colleges by $55 million, a 37% increase in funding.

The study found that Iowa’s community colleges collectively contributed $5.4 billion into the state’s economy (equal to 3.3% of the state’s Gross State Product) and supported 107,170 jobs – roughly 6% of all jobs in Iowa – during fiscal year 2014-15.

Among the study’s findings:

  • During the analysis year, past and present students generated $4.6 billion in added income for the state, which is equivalent to supporting 87,905 jobs.
  • The top industries impacted by Iowa’s community colleges include health care and social assistance; manufacturing; finance and insurance; and construction.
  • For every dollar of public money invested in Iowa’s community colleges, $3.50 in benefits is returned to taxpayers and the average annual rate of return is 10.4%.
  • For every dollar that a student spends on a community college education in Iowa, that student receives $6.50 per hour in higher future income with an average annual rate of return of 25.3%.
  • The average associate degree completer will see an increase in earnings of $9,500 each year when compared to someone with a high school diploma or equivalent. Over a working lifetime, this increase in earnings amounts to an undiscounted value of approximately $418,000 in higher earnings.
  • The total benefits to society, which include increased lifetime earnings, associated increases in business output and social savings, equal $15.2 billion (in present value form).

On Friday, February 10, 2017, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach issued a press release in which it discussed the serious threat that a new weed called Palmer Amaranth poses to Iowa farmers and their fields. The weed has been discovered in 48 Iowa counties, and is spreading. Extension is hosting several meetings in eastern and southeastern Iowa to share information, and I hope there will be some programs soon in our area as well.

The deadly Emerald Ash Borer is spreading. Presently, entomologists are working with using parasitic wasps to help in controlling the pest. Foresters have decided that we are going to lose all of our ash trees. Seeds are being stored for the day when the last ash tree dies, and we can start over.

You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005.   If you have email, please contact me at [email protected].

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