Condition of the State: More to do to help hard-working families get ahead

Center Focus

Condition of the State: More to do to help hard-working families get ahead

 

By Sheila Hansen, CFPC policy director

Many Iowans were anxiously awaiting the first Condition of the State address from Gov. Kim Reynolds. While we appreciate this historic event, we came away disappointed. She said her story shows “that dreams can come true in Iowa for hard-working Iowans.” While this may be true for her, many hardworking Iowans are still struggling every day to achieve their own dreams. 

We look forward to working with the Governor on areas that we know will help all hard-working families get ahead — and on implementing policies and making investments in our children’s future that she didn’t mention. Like child care. Her own initiative, Future Ready Iowa, came out with key recommendations to help “create opportunities for more Iowans to have great careers and employers to hire the skilled workers they need to grow.” One area they identified was child care and the cliff effect.

What do Iowans do with their children when they are in school or working? Iowa leads the nation in the share of families with parents working outside the home. Three-fourths of Iowa households with children under age 6 have all parents at home in the labor force. But in many Iowa communities, child care is often unaffordable, inaccessible or nonexistent. As a result, working parents miss work, drop shifts, are distracted on the job, switch jobs or leave the workforce altogether.  

We hope as the session progresses, the Governor (and the Legislature) will see the need to address the cliff effect and the woefully inadequate pay of child care providers.  We do want to acknowledge that the Governor has proposed a $13 million increase for child care assistance (CCA) in her budget. This will meet the projected need for FY 19 — keeping Iowa from instituting a waiting list — but it does not allow any new families to qualify for child care assistance or pay providers more.  

The Governor is also proposing $27 million in cuts for the current budget year. They include $10 million in cuts to Medicaid, $5 million to Regents institutions, over $3 million to both human services and corrections, and nearly $2 million to community colleges.

The Governor’s budget reflects her administration’s priorities. Obviously, the Legislature will go through its own process, working with the Governor, and pass a budget that reflects the priorities of the majority party. 

The Governor announced the “Unleashing Iowa” tour to take her Condition of the State address/proposals on the road. As of this writing, her office has not released the schedule for next week, but you can check the website. If you attend, please ask the Governor how Iowans who want to work and/or go to school can do so if child care is not available or affordable? Gov. Reynolds needs to hear stories from hard-working Iowans whom want to achieve their dreams and do what they can to ensure their children achieve their dreams as well.

01/12/2018 9:56 AM |Add a comment
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