We can thank Iowa’s GOP legislators for forcing our state universities to cut important programs and research this academic year. Budget cuts due to decreased funding from the state will affect the state’s public health and environmental laboratory, research on the occupational health of agricultural workers and efforts to help veterans transition into higher education.
Among the 12 centers to be closed are: the Center on Aging, which conducts research on heath issues for the elderly; the Labor Center, which educates workers on their rights; and the Confucius Center, which exists to bridge the gap between the U.S. and China. International students, many of whom are Chinese, are an extremely important source of tuition revenue for our colleges.
Iowa’s aging population, labor issues and relations with China are of the utmost importance. The Republican-controlled Legislature consistently has underfunded higher education in Iowa. UI officials describe the cuts as a “generational disinvestment in public higher education.” How can we retain and attract young people to high-tech jobs in Iowa when our colleges and universities are forced to eliminate opportunities?
Elections have consequences. In November, I’m supporting a fresh approach to our public services. I’m voting for Jodi Clemens for the Iowa House in District 73 because she understands the value of our public institutions. I’m voting for Clemens because it’s time we stop draining our state of every asset we’ve built up over the last 50 years and once again become a leader in higher education.