The Behn Report

Jerry Behn (R), Boone

~ by Senator Jerry Behn 

January 25, 2019

This week was a shortened week due to the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. Most of the week was spent working in subcommittees. It is the first step in the legislative process and gives interested parties an opportunity to support, oppose or suggest changes to the proposed legislation.

Wednesday was Veterans Day at the Capitol and I had the opportunity to meet with some veterans groups on what their priorities are for us this year. We discussed how we can help with services that focus on mental health and trauma for veterans. Veterans also handed out a priority sheet for legislators that included protection for the Veterans home, increases in the Military Property tax exemption, a veteran designation on driver’s licenses, legislation for flying POW/MIA flags, and legislation that would instill Americanism and patriotism in grades K-12.

Also, in our first weeks here, one of the most important things discussed is the increase in education funding for the next fiscal year. The legislature has set a goal for establishing funding levels for K-12 education within 30 days after the governor’s budget is submitted. It is our goal to approve this funding within that timeframe, so Iowa schools can work on their budgets and planning for the next school year.

Each legislative session for the last several years, education funding in Iowa has gotten an increase. The most significant part of our discussions is how much of an increase is sustainable. After years of over-promising and under-delivering, being able to give a sustainable number to school districts is crucial.

Lowest unemployment rate in the country

Senate Republicans worked the last two years to pass policies that create a pathway to improve Iowa’s business climate. It is outstanding to see those successes come to fruition each and every week. The most recent piece of great news: Iowa now stands alone as boasting the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.

Iowa Workforce Development announced recently the December unemployment rate remained strong at 2.4 percent. November’s data had Iowa tied with Hawaii, which experienced a slight increase to 2.5 percent in December.

Nearly 2,300 Iowans entered the workforce in December bringing the total number of Iowans employed to more than 1.65 million. More Iowans are now working than at any time in this state’s history. This is a first in Iowa, and it illustrates what Senate Majority Leader Whitver said in his opening day speech.

He said, “two years ago, we set out to implement a better job climate in the state of Iowa. Today, we have the lowest unemployment rate in the entire nation. We went from a state asking “where are the jobs” to a state asking “where are the workers?”

We are very proud of the work we have done in the last two years, but it is important not to rest on our laurels. We always must strive for improvement. We must work to bolster new career opportunities in our cities, county seats, and throughout rural communities across our great state.

This is going to be an exciting session as we move forward sowing the seeds to help Iowa continue to grow and succeed.

As always, I want to hear from you. My Senate number is (515) 281-3371 and my home number is (515) 432-7327 or write me at: State Capitol, Des Moines, IA 50319 or at my home address: 1313 Quill Avenue, Boone, IA 50036 or email me at jerry.behn [at] legis [dot] iowa [dot] gov

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