I am running for governor to increase wages and drive meaningful economic growth across Iowa, particularly rural and smaller communities like my hometown of Charles City that too often have been left behind. The challenges in that “forgotten” Iowa are real, and they are significant. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the annual average wage in the top ten counties in the state is $7,500 more than the average wages in the other 89 counties. This is unacceptable and has created a divide between our Iowa communities.
A real increase in wages, particularly in rural communities, starts by investing in education especially the post-secondary schools that light the path to job opportunities. Iowa simply cannot expect to be competitive and maintain a skilled workforce if we continue to slash funding for our community colleges, which serve more than 90,000 Iowans per semester in cities, towns, and rural areas across our state.
That’s why as governor I will offer universal access to our community colleges so any Iowan will be able to receive free tuition at one of Iowa’s 15 community colleges. This program will provide Iowans with significantly more opportunities to pursue higher education, lower student debt, improve workforce shortages across the state, and train Iowans for the jobs of the 21st Century.
To grow Iowa’s economy, it is also well past time to review and reform how tax credits are offered in the state. $18 million for a company to move from West Des Moines to Des Moines? $8 million for a company to add 10 jobs in Polk County? The cost of these incentive packages is significant for Iowa taxpayers, but there is limited reward in those communities let alone across the state. Iowa can do better and we will do better when I am elected governor.
Also, Iowa should also invest more in its infrastructure particularly broadband access so all Iowa businesses can compete in the 21st Century economy. That is particularly true in rural and small town Iowa where access to broadband has lagged behind and slowed economic growth.
Finally, we have to support Iowa’s working families who have helped build the middle class in Iowa. That means restoring collective bargaining rights, increasing the minimum wage, and providing real workplace protections. An economy that doesn’t work for every Iowan doesn’t work.