From Sen. Amanda Ragan –
The 2013 session has ended with many successful efforts to strengthen and expand Iowa’s middle class.
We found common ground by working together, Democrats and Republicans, and by listening to our constituents to pass bills that give Iowans access to good jobs, great communities, strong schools and affordable health care.
Thank you to all who took the time to contact me during the session. Your ideas, suggestions and priorities are reflected in the bills that made it to the Governor’s desk, including:
• Expanding health care coverage to 150,000 uninsured working Iowans through a new Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. We are also ensuring Iowans get the mental health services they need in their communities.
• Reducing Iowa’s skilled worker shortage with an investment of $34.3 million in worker training to help Iowans qualify for job openings at local businesses and grow Iowa’s economy.
• Keeping tuition affordable at our community colleges, state universities and private colleges, so all Iowans have the educational opportunities that lead to great jobs. There will not be a tuition increase at Iowa’s state universities for the first time in 30 years.
• Providing a 4 percent increase in support for local schools for the next two fiscal years. We will continue efforts to ensure education reform increases standards, improves teaching and encourages innovation.
• Cutting commercial property taxes to help small businesses without shifting the burden to residential property owners or hurting local schools and services.
• Boosting local economic activity and helping low-income Iowa families work their way out of poverty by increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit from 7 percent to 15 percent of the federal credit.
• Improving Iowa’s water, environment and recreational opportunities by investing in programs and partnerships with farmers, landowners and communities.