Many issues were debated this week, and much progress was made on issues that have been “in the works” for a long time. On Tuesday, the House and Senate finally came to an agreement on K-12 school funding. We will be designating almost $100 million in new funding for schools. This will include $7.65 million for transportation and $5.8 million to equalize the per pupil funding which should give an extra boost to rural schools. The Senate and House acted quickly, passing SF 2142 and sending it to the Governor for final signing into law.
I have been lobbied by student groups from local high schools every year. One of the issues they asked for action on was raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco or vaping products. Federal law has mandated we must move to a 21-year minimum in three years. Senate File 2268 makes that change now. It passed 43-6 and goes to the House for their consideration.
America is the greatest country in the history of the world. The unparalleled success of this country is founded on a handful of ideas such a freedom, private property rights, and the rule of law. One of the greatest advantages Americans have had is their pride in hard work and achieving success through their own efforts. Work gives individuals meaning and dignity. It teaches life lessons and develops the skills of workers. Entry level jobs provide the foundation for more opportunities for success.
Those concepts inspired the text of Senate File 2366, a bill passed on the Senate floor this week. This bill requires individuals receiving taxpayer-funded health care or food assistance to work, volunteer, obtain job training or other schooling. This bill only applies to able-bodied adults and includes a series of exceptions for those who are not able to work, such as those who are pregnant, medically exempt, or caregivers.
The goal of this bill is to encourage work. It is designed to ensure that taxpayer-funded social programs exist for those people who truly are in need. Its aim is to encourage those individuals on public assistance to move to self-sustaining careers for them and their families. This has been done successfully in many other states already.
In addition to the moral and social benefits of work, Iowa’s economy needs more workers. The unemployment rate in this state has been below 3 percent for more than two years. Industry after industry is looking for more employees and trying to grow. Banners hang from many storefronts boasting of high starting wages and quickly escalating benefits. A period of nearly full employment is the perfect time to reform public assistance programs to encourage work and keep Iowa growing.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 says, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.”
Algona forum: March 21 at 10:00 AM, IA Lakes Community, Tietz Entrepreneurial Center, Rm 33