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Hinson addresses child care, student debt with Cedar Rapids economic development group
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Hinson addresses child care, student debt with Cedar Rapids economic development group

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From 2019: Iowa state Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, looks on as Gov. Kim Reynolds signs a bill last year. Hinson is running for Congress against Democrat Abby Finkenauer.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Congressional hopeful State Rep. Ashley Hinson wants to increase workforce opportunities, especially for younger workers, by expanding access to affordable child care as well as exploring creative approaches to paying off student debt.

Hinson is optimistic Iowa will get back to its pre-pandemic unemployment level — 2.7 percent in February, “when jobs were looking for workers instead of the other way around.”

To expand the workforce to meet Iowa employers’ needs, Hinson told members of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Young Professionals Tuesday, it will be essential for parents to have access to child care.

Hinson, a former television news anchor and currently in her second term in the Iowa House, is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer in Iowa’s 1st District. The 20-county district includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

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In answering questions during the hour-long virtual forum, Hinson frequently referred to legislation she worked on as a state lawmaker that she believes can be a model for federal policies.

For example, she talked about Iowa lawmakers approving tax incentives for businesses that offer on-site care for employees’ children or support the development of child care facilities.

The mother of two school-aged children also called for expanding the federal child care tax credit.

To address the burden of student debt, Hinson suggested tax incentives for employers to pay for employees’ education loans or pay for additional training or degree work.

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“I think something like that would be a really creative recruitment tool to be able to appeal to the millennial generation,” she said.

It’s also necessary to increase the federal child care tax credit as well as “provide some incentives to people who want to enter the child care field,” Hinson said.

The Economic Alliance, a nonpartisan group that does not endorse candidates, will host other candidates for federal office in the coming weeks. The forums are not open to the public.

Early voting begins in Iowa Oct. 5 and Election Day is Nov. 3. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 24.

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