I was honored to be named “Legislator of the Year” at the statewide meeting for the Iowa Fraternal Congress recently. The Fraternal Congress cited my efforts to fight for children and a world-class education here in Iowa. The organization is an alliance of nonprofits that work together to solve common community problems. I am truly humbled at their recognition and will continue working to advance legislation benefitting children and families.
Just a reminder: eligible victims of the recent severe storms and flooding in Dubuque County can apply for help from Iowa’s State Individual Assistance Disaster Program. Grants up to $5,000 are available to families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four with a total income of less than $44,700 would quality. For an application, eligibility info and instructions, see http://www.dhs.state.ia.us and click on “Storm Help.”
As you know, during the 2011 legislative session—my first as a state senator—I focused a lot of my time on job creation and ways to help local business thrive. We ended up approving several measures to stimulate economic growth and continue Iowa’s recovery from the national recession. A few of our biggest successes include:
• Continuing the Iowa Values Fund, a successful job-creation initiative that invests in long-range economic growth for our state. Attracting and retaining good companies that offer high-quality jobs is a smart move, especially when you consider that Iowa ranks No. 1 in the nation for the lowest cost of doing business.
• Creating a new public-private partnership that will focus on bringing more good jobs to Iowa. The Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress will replace the Iowa Department of Economic Development, offering greater transparency accountability for your tax dollars.
• Maintaining a commitment to economic development initiatives at our state universities, which work with businesses on technology commercialization, marketing, entrepreneurship and business growth.
• Jump-starting innovative companies with a new tax credit for investment in businesses with new ideas to move Iowa’s economy forward.
• Offering greater resources to improve our local communities through tax credits that rehabilitate historic properties, revitalize business and industrial areas, and encourage privately-funded community improvements.
These kinds of efforts are paying off. Iowa’s economy is now 5th best in the country, up from 10th last year, according to CNBC’s annual report on America’s top states for doing business. But there is so much more we can do to stimulate small business growth and job creation in our local communities.
Several initiatives that passed the Iowa Senate with bipartisan support weren’t even considered by the Iowa House during the 2011 session. These include commercial property tax relief for four out of five Iowa businesses, affordable health insurance and low-interest loans for small businesses, industry-approved worker training for in-demand jobs, and consumer rebates for expanding clean energy in homes and businesses.
Iowa workers also suffered a setback when Governor Branstad vetoed legislation to keep Iowa’s Workforce Development offices open. These offices help workers looking for jobs and businesses looking to hire, but the Governor insists on closing 36 offices, mostly in rural areas with high unemployment. He also said “no” to a job-creation tax cut that would put more money in the pockets of working Iowa families with incomes less than $45,000. I support holding a special legislative session to override the Governor’s veto and keep Workforce Development offices open.
Next year, I hope we can take another look at some of these important initiatives to create jobs, encourage small business growth and continue Iowa’s recovery from the national recession. As we prepare for the 2012 session, please contact me with your ideas for creating Iowa jobs and improving Iowa’s economy.
To contact me when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at (515) 281-3371.
Otherwise I can be reached at home at (563) 652-5499. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Senator Tod Bowman serves the people of Iowa's Senate District 13, which includes Jackson County, northeast Clinton County and southeast Dubuque County.