January 24, 2019
The Legislature was not in session on Monday because of the Martin Luther King holiday.
A snowstorm hit central Iowa Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, and by Thursday morning, we were under a winter weather advisory and wind chill warning.
Most legislators were rushing to finish up their work and committee meetings by Thursday evening so they could head for home. Hopefully the weather will settle down in the next couple of weeks.
During her Condition of the State address last week, Governor Kim Reynolds unveiled her Budget plan for FY2020. Her proposal funds the priorities of many members of the House, and they are the priorities of most Iowans.
Some of the budget highlights include:
Education and Workforce
• $93.4 million increase for K-12 schools
• $4.7 million increase for community colleges
• $18 million increase for Regents universities
• $1.1 million increase to the Iowa Tuition Grant program
• $17.2 million to the College Student Aid Commission to fund the Last-Dollar Scholarship program as part of Future Ready Iowa.
• $6 million to increase the number of regional Access Centers and for additional mobile treatment teams around the state to further implement last year’s mental health reforms.
• $3 million for training teachers to help detect students’ mental health issues.
Rural Iowa Initiatives
• $10 million to expand access to broadband throughout Iowa.
I am looking forward to working with the Governor, and am very happy that her budget is responsible and does not spend more than the state receives in revenues.
Since it is early in the session, committee work is just beginning and there are no bills ready for debate. I found these two bits of news I thought were interesting:
Iowa’s employment rate has historically been below the national average by up to 3.6 percent. As the national average has dropped, the difference between the two rates has narrowed, especially over the past two years.
As of November 2018, the state unemployment rate stood at 2.4 percent, and the national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.
Iowa is ranked first nationally in the production of corn, pork, and eggs and second nationally in the total value of agricultural products sold, behind only California.
Iowa is home to 36 of the largest 100 food manufacturers and processors in the nation. Iowa ranks first in the nation in ethanol production and second in biodiesel production.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or home 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@example.com.