Ending the year on a high note

As 2013 comes to an end, we cap off a year that has pointed Iowa in the right direction on many fronts. We ensured more Iowans have access to good jobs, great communities, strong local schools and affordable health care—all while balancing the state budget without raising taxes.

These fiscally responsible investments in Iowa are paying off. Last week, the state’s nonpartisan Revenue Estimating Conference confirmed that Iowa’s economy is steadily growing. Our bipartisan effort to expand access to affordable health care, the Iowa Health & Wellness Plan, was approved. Also Iowa children are showing improvements in health, education and wellbeing, according to a new report from Kids Count.

This week, the nation’s leading wind power utility announced a major expansion in Iowa. MidAmerican Energy is buying hundreds of Iowa-built wind turbines from Siemens Energy to be installed on wind farms throughout the state. This clean, locally produced energy reduces our dependence on foreign oil, while creating good jobs and economic opportunities in our communities.

While 2013 is ending with lots of good news, there is more we can do to grow and strengthen Iowa’s middle class. Thousands of Iowans are still struggling to work their way out of the national recession. The number of Iowans in need of food has increased dramatically in recent years, and our state’s childhood poverty rate is climbing faster than the national average.

As we look to 2014, I will make sure we use Iowa’s resources wisely to build on our successes. You can expect to see another balanced state budget that invests in education, worker training and job creation.

If you have ideas that can help expand Iowa’s middle class, please e-mail me. The 2014 session is less than a month away and I value your opinions.

 

Additional information

This is a legislative column by Senator Amanda Ragan, representing Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/ragan. To contact Senator Ragan during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise she can be reached at home at 641-424-0874. E-mail her at amanda.ragan@legis.iowa.gov. Senator Ragan is an Assistant Senate Majority Leader, chair of the Human Resources Committee and vice-chair of the Health & Human Services Budget Subcommittee. She also serves on the Appropriations, Natural Resources & Environment, Rules & Administration and Veterans Affairs committees.