The Chamber hosted Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State Address and an Iowa Legislative Luncheon last week, providing two back to back opportunities for members to engage with state elected officials.
With an anticipated confirmation to become Ambassador to China happening as soon as April, in his final major speech in the Quad Cities, Governor Branstad touted accomplishments, expressed gratitude to Scott County and reiterated the importance of education and workforce – a message echoed the following day during the Iowa Legislative Luncheon with nine of our state legislators.
The following issues were discussed:
· Apprenticeships and equal school funding
State legislators added their support for apprenticeships and equal school funding, which was passed by the Senate last week.
· Commercial property tax rollback
The commercial property tax rollback received attention at both events; this backfill is a vital component for our local governments to provide their core services. In 2013 Commercial Property Tax was rolled-back to keep Iowa competitive. To ensure local governments wouldn’t get hurt, a deal was struck to where the State agreed to backfill the lost revenue to local governments.
While the Governor expressed his support for the backfill, the legislators mentioned the State may abandon its obligation as soon as this year. The Chamber strongly encourages state leaders to honor that commitment.
· Economic development incentives that help produce a trained and skilled workforce
The most important factor for economic growth is workforce. As many area manufacturers are starting to see an uptick in demand and with new businesses moving to the region, the need for an available, skilled workforce is now greater than ever.
There are many tools available through the state that helps develop workforce: New Jobs Tax Credits, High Quality Jobs Programs, Iowa Workforce Development, Community Colleges, Apprentice Programs, and primary education. On Friday, while several Chamber members talked about the importance of these incentives, our state legislators confirmed there was consideration for cutting funding to these programs.
These are important issues to our region and their support is imperative to our region’s growth. Please contact your legislators to let them know you are expecting support for the backfill and economic development incentives.