Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State address this week gave Iowans several ideas worthy of consideration by the Legislature.
Before the speech, The Gazette editorial board called on Reynolds to come out with specific policy proposals to move her agenda forward. Reynolds still is a relatively new governor — Tuesday was just her third Condition of the State address — so it’s important for her to make it abundantly clear to lawmakers where she stands.
While Reynolds’ address did not include details on all the issues we hoped she would discuss, she deserves credit for taking on several priorities that could make a lasting impact on Iowans’ lives, including:
• Work-based learning for K-12 students
• Statewide computer science education
• Vocational training for adult learners
• Professional licensing reform
• Felon voting rights
• Child care access
• Broadband infrastructure
In her remarks, Reynolds emphasized the need to plan not just for next year, but for the next 10, 20 or 30 years. That is one of the underlying themes that connects all of the issues listed above.
On education, Reynolds and legislators from both parties are making an effort to prepare current and future workers with the skills necessary to compete in emerging industries. This should start with science and technology curriculum at the primary school level and extend through adult training programs.
Licensing reform has been a growing bipartisan trend for many years, but Iowa still has some of the nation’s most burdensome licensing requirements for workers. Reducing those barriers will help Iowa attract and retain high-quality professionals.
Permanently restoring felons’ voting rights, one of Reynolds’ priorities from last year, would bring Iowa in line with 49 other states and help welcome former offenders back into life outside prison.
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Child care access is closely connected with the state’s social and economic health. There is a child care shortage in Iowa, especially acute in rural communities, which threatens family stability and hampers workforce growth.
Investments in technology, such as broadband internet, will pay dividends for many years into the future. It also enables rural Iowans to access educational resources and helps promote the adoption of telehealth, whereby doctors can serve patients throughout the state.
As Reynolds said on Tuesday, these are a few of the necessary steps toward equipping Iowans to prosper now and for decades into the future.
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