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Capitol Notebook: Iowa’s Reynolds joins 21 other GOP governors asking Biden to nix student debt plan
Also, Iowa creates new division to work with businesses on employment issues
Sep. 12, 2022 5:20 pm
Gov. Kim Reynolds joined 21 other Republican governors in signing a letter to Democratic President Joe Biden opposing his plan to forgive some federal student loan debt for some students.
Biden’s plan would cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for individuals making up to $125,000 annually, and $20,000 of debt for Pell Grant recipients.
The governors’ letter implores Biden to immediately withdraw the plan.
“We support making higher education more affordable and accessible for students, but not at the expense of the American taxpayers,” Reynolds said in a statement. “(Biden’s) plan will encourage more student borrowing, incentivize higher tuition rates, and drive-up inflation even further. These outcomes hurt everyone, but none more so than the millions of working-class Americans who’ve already paid off their loans or chosen not to borrow.”
Opponents of the plan assert it will shift the financial burden to all taxpayers, and that it will disproportionately benefit the wealthy — or, as the governors’ letter puts it, “an elite few.”
The White House claims 90 percent of those who stand to benefit from the plan earn less than $75,000 a year.
“All of this means people can start to finally crawl out from under that mountain of debt to get on top of their rent and their utilities, to finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business,” Biden said in August when he announced the plan.
NEW BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT DIVISION: The Iowa Workforce Development department has launched a new Business Engagement Division, which it says will create a more efficient state structure for assessing and solving the workforce challenges of Iowa businesses.
The new division was created at the direction of Gov. Kim Reynolds. It will be headed by administrator Tim Goodwin and deputy administrator Kathy Anderson.
Coinciding with the launch, members and state agency leaders will travel across the state over the next 100 days to speak to employers, the state agency said.
“We want to spend the next few months connecting with as many Iowa employers as possible so we can make certain that the state is doing everything it can to address their workforce needs and also provide a slate of real solutions,” Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend said in a news release.
CHILDREN’S FOOD ASSISTANCE: Children under the age of 6 from low-income families are eligible for food assistance benefits under the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, the state Health and Human Services department announced.
Federal legislation has allowed states to issue emergency food assistance benefits to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households with children under age 6 who were impacted by pandemic-related school changes and closures, the state agency said.
The program is available to families with children under age 6 who received SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) between September 2021 and May 2022.
The monthly, per-child benefit is $22.01 for the 2021 months and $21.15 for the 2022 months. More information is on the Iowa HHS’ website.
DNR POLLUTION GRANT: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will receive a $350,000 federal grant to bolster its Pollution Prevention Services.
The division, which works with businesses and government agencies to identify ways to reduce pollution, plans to use the grant to hire an additional engineer, add more interns to work with firms, and create an online training portal.
Made possible by the 2021 federal infrastructure law, the grant was one of several given by the Environmental Protection Agency to pollution prevention efforts in various states.
The service offers free assessments to businesses with more than 100 employees to identify ways to reduce pollution and increase efficiency. It also provides businesses with interns to implement pollution prevention plans.
“This grant would allow us to hire another person to actually work with companies to provide them (pollution prevention) or source reduction information to help them be more efficient,” Program Manager Jeff Fiagle said. “Both by doing assessments and actually offering more internships.”
The division also will create an online resource that mirrors the training it provides interns, making the information available to other students and businesses, Fiagle said.
Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau