Overall, Iowa's economy is strong and our unemployment rate is historically low. But we aren't building an economy which can support the innovation economy nor are our policies designed to build our communities from the ground up.
Our government can do a lot to ensure we lift everyone up and leave no one behind. This includes creating policies which grow and expand the economy and provide the supports for individuals and families to achieve their own American Dream right here in Iowa.
That means we can pass a pro-family and pro-business bill to lift the minimum wage.
That means we can pass tax reform which supports real job growth and lifts families up.
That means we can pass an education reform package which encourages training in careers experiencing rapid growth.
My four-point plan will raise the quality of life throughout our state to a level that supports strong communities and strong families.
Increase the statewide minimum wage
Create an Iowa Startup Fund
Support programs to close the skills gap
No. 1: Increase the Statewide Minimum Wage
The minimum wage was designed to create a “minimum standard of living” to protect the health and wellbeing of employees.
An increase of the wage to $8.75 would impact 112,000 Iowans directly. In 2015, SF 269 proposed this increase which would see an additional 70,000 Iowans receive indirect increases in their wages as the wage floor moved up.
During the 2017 Iowa Legislative session, HF 295 reduced the pay for 65,000 Iowans due to the state wanting to maintain control of minimum wages.,
There are economists who believe increasing the minimum wage will have little impact on the income needs of poor families. But when combined with changes to the EITC, we can ensure we support all families in need across our state and promote income growth.
Proposal: Increase the Statewide minimum wage to $8.75 over three years, then peg the minimum wage to inflation.
No. 2: Reduce Regulations
It is a fact that only six states license more low- and middle-income professions than Iowa. For Iowans seeking to enter one of the 54 licensed professions, they can expect, on average, to pay between $141 and $1,850 in various fees and be required to obtain more than six months of education and experience. There are also exams prior to licensure in many of these industries. For instance, Iowa’s cosmetology license is the second-most difficult in the country to obtain and Iowa’s aspiring cosmetologists can lose 490 days to training requirements.
Proposal: Reduce burdensome regulations and requirements in these professions without reducing consumer safety.
No. 3: Create an Iowa Startup Fund
One of the ways we can promote job growth and build a strong and diverse economy which supports everyone is to produce more home-grown entrepreneurs built for a modern economy. An Endeavor Insight Study reported that “only 5% of entrepreneurs cited low tax rates as a factor in deciding where to launch their companies.”
The same study went on to report that 31% of company founders cited access to talent as a factor in their decision on where to launch their company.
The Des Moines Register reported on September 28, 2016, that during an 11-year period, businesses failed to deliver at least 6,600 jobs promised in exchange for financial assistance from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. From July 2003 - June 2014, IEDA awarded more than $309.9 million in assistance; and those firms also received $1.4 billion in tax credits.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “states should focus on producing more home-grown entrepreneurs and on helping startups and young, fast-growing firms already located in the state to survive and grow.” The same report went on to say that new, young businesses play a critical role in job creation.
Proposal: Reduce various tax credit incentives not producing quality and measurable results.
Proposal: Create the Iowa Startup Fund to support new and innovative businesses with a total of $10 million in funding over five years. (This is paid for with the tax reform on Bank Franchise Taxes)
No. 4: Support programs to close the skills gap
Iowa is at a unique crossroads. According to the Iowa Alliance for Growth, by 2020, Iowa will need to fill 61,500 high-skilled positions to continue to expand and provide economic opportunities. Not only that, but of the total jobs in Iowa, 55% are middle-skilled jobs while we only have 34% of our population set for those positions. And we have 12% of jobs that are low-skilled but 34% of Iowans to fill those jobs. It is estimated that the majority of job growth in Iowa will be in the healthcare and building trades.
*Proposal: Increase funding to the Iowa Skilled Workforce and Job Creation Fund by 52.9% to $23.1M.
*Proposal: Increase funding for the Iowa Apprentice Act from $3 million to $5 million.
Proposal: Create a scholarship fund for Iowa’s community colleges and state schools to support students who wish to pursue up to a two-year degree in a high-demand field
*These two proposals are paid for with revenue from the change in Bank Franchise Fees.
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