Economic Development and Iowa's Workforce Crisis
Iowans need policies that support a commitment to economic security and economic opportunity for everyone, in every community across our state. As a mom of twins, I understand the struggle families face when the reality of the high cost of childcare hits home. I’ve also felt the anxiety of using all of my unpaid time off while on bedrest before my children were born. Iowans need policies that make life easier for working families, including the expansion of paid family medical leave, sick leave and affordable child care.
We need to make investments that spur local economic development around quality of life and grow our state to address the workforce crisis. I believe we do this by ensuring Iowa is a welcoming state, creates good paying jobs with a living wage, and by investing in affordable child care and affordable housing. We can also choose to invest in quality of life experiences like bike trails, state parks, and arts and culture that enrich our daily lives. We need state leadership that is focused on creating an environment that makes Iowans want to stay and encourages those that have left to come back.
One of the biggest challenges we face with this workforce crisis is direct care workers – child care, elder care, and support services for persons with disabilities. Direct care is a historically low wage profession, and raising wages is necessary for recruiting and retaining more providers. We need to create a culture that values this work and pays for it accordingly. I support, under the childcare assistance program and the Medicaid program for elder and disability care services, raising reimbursement rates to providers.
Additionally, small businesses and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our communities. I support economic development that focuses on ensuring small and medium-sized businesses have access to assistance from the state government in order to grow and thrive. We need to make sure more entrepreneurs, especially those of color, have easier access to capital to start a business and reinvest in their communities. It’s also critical that our vision of statewide economic development reflects the needs and strengths of each community. Fostering public-private partnerships in communities across the state provide opportunities to highlight what makes each city and town in Iowa unique.
Last but not least, part of ensuring economic security and opportunity for all Iowans includes making it easier to join a union. I strongly support the restoration of collective bargaining rights, a system that was created with bipartisan support and worked well for 40 years, for our teachers and public employees.