I put out a press release last week addressing the ABSURD allegations that the Republicans were planning to cut IPERS. Again, this is not true. As a member of the IPERS review committee, we have been assured the pension system is well managed and remains one of the most sound pension systems in the country. Thanks to the boom in the stock market, between June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017, IPERS assets grew by $2.44 billion, about $203 million per month. During the previous two years, IPERS asses only grew by $290 million, 12.1 million per month.

Balancing the budget remains a top priority and looking at K-12 funding will be one of the first items on our agenda. Iowa is fourth in nation in K-12 funding increases, and we will be working to set school funding for 2018-19 school year within the first 30 days of session. We will continue to look for opportunities to provide schools with more funding flexibility, so districts can better meet the specific needs of their students, teachers, and staff. I believe that local control is crucial to education and will continue to work to empower locally elected school boards so they can innovate and govern their schools in a way that is best for them. We will be having a discussion on reauthorizing the SAVE penny that schools use for infrastructure and on extending operation sharing incentives.

With Iowa’s unemployment rate at a 17 year low, most Iowans that want a job have a job. However, many Iowans may lack the training or experience needed for high paying careers. Governor Reynolds has made building a skilled and prepared workforce one of her top priorities this session and has proposed the Future Ready Iowa Act. She has set a goal for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to earn some sort of post-secondary degree or certification by 2025.

This last week was short due to Martin Luther King holiday. We spent time in our committees planning our agendas for this session. At the beginning of session, most of our work is done in committees. I sit on Commerce, Local Government, Economic Growth, and Ways and Means. I also sit on the Administration and Regulations Budget subcommittee, which oversees the budgets of various governmental departments.

As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns. My email is jane.bloomingdale@legis.iowa.gov.