Iowa House & Senate passed the sanctuary city bill and is headed to the governor’s desk. Legislative leaders now head into budget negotiations.
Week 13 recap
Matt discusses sanctuary city bill, tax bill, budget negotiations and Trump/China Trade War Tariffs affecting Iowa
ALERT: STATE UNIVERSITY TUITION INCREASE ON TAP
Iowa’s state universities have been cut nearly $50 million in the past 12 months, a reduction of almost 10 percent in just one year. Funding for our state universities is now lower than it was in 1998.
The result? Higher tuition for Iowa students again this fall. Many kids from working families simply won’t be able to afford to attend. That’s bad news when we’re trying to boost the number of skilled workers to fill immediate job openings.
At its April meeting, the Iowa Board of Regents will consider tuition increases at Iowa’s three state universities:
A 3.8 percent increase at the University of Iowa will make base tuition $7,770 for 2018-19.
A 3.8 percent increase at Iowa State University will make base tuition $7,740 for 2018-19.
A 2.8 percent increase at the University of Northern Iowa will make base tuition $7,665 for 2018-19.
Full details on the proposed increases are available from the Iowa Board of Regents. You can listen live 12:30 to 3 p.m. on April 12 when they discuss the tuition increases.
EDUCATION ADAPTS TO GET IOWA MORE FUTURE READY
Iowa employers have said for years that their biggest challenge is finding enough skilled and qualified workers to fill immediate jobs openings.
The Legislature has responded with a bipartisan plan to make Iowa more Future Ready. HF 2458 won unanimous approval in the House and Senate, and was signed into law this week.
It aims for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. That means another 127,700 Iowans need to earn post-secondary degrees or other credentials in advanced manufacturing, computer science, finance, health care and other high-demand fields.
Becoming Future Ready is all about helping Iowans gain momentum on their path to a successful career, and Iowa’s education system is adapting. Two examples include:
Offering more Career and Technical Education. Students with career and technical training have higher rates of employment and higher earnings than other students, according to a report on community college education outcomes.
Ensuring students are awarded the credentials they’ve earned. Community college students who transfer to state universities before earning a degree or certificate will have an easier time getting a credential retroactively. Students simply have their university transcripts sent back to their community colleges, which determine if they’ve met requirements for degrees or other credentials. This is expected to boost college completion rates and the number of community college credentials awarded.
Now, the Legislature must increase its investment in job training and education at all levels so that the resources are available to meet the needs of Iowans, businesses and communities becoming Future Ready.
IOWA ON CUTTING EDGE WITH NEW CANCER TREATMENT
April is National Cancer Control Month, a time to promote cancer prevention, screening, research and progress toward a cure. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with the National Cancer Institute estimating that 1.7 million new cases were diagnosed in 2016.
But we also have something big to celebrate: a major advance in cancer treatment. Members of the Senate Human Resources Committee recently learned about the new developments happening right here in Iowa.
Viewpoint Molecular Targeting in Iowa City and Coralville is developing “theranostics” to be added to the array of cancer treatment options that includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. Theranostics are pharmaceutical drugs that are both therapeutic and diagnostic. Researchers at the University of Iowa designed these particular drugs to deliver radiation to cancer cells without damaging normal healthy cells.
Business and financial assistance has helped get this promising innovation off the ground, including grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the melanoma clinical research program at the University of Iowa; cash prizes through business competitions; state support for high-tech startups; and private dollars through such organizations as the Wellmark Fund.
This breakthrough is an example of how Iowa’s state universities make our world better in so many ways. The University of Iowa has played a big role in the success of this endeavor that may save millions of lives, advances science and medicine, attracts and trains talented people in a variety of fields, and develops exciting business and entrepreneurial opportunities.
PUTTING IOWANS FIRST WITH MENTAL HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENTS
Senate Democrats are Putting Iowans First by focusing on better paying jobs, the best education in the country, revitalizing our rural communities, and making Iowa the #1 place to live.
Iowans say improving access to mental health care is one of the most important things we can do for the quality of life in our state. That message has come through loud and clear in statewide polls, constituent surveys, and your emails, phone calls, letters and visits.
Extensive bipartisan work established Iowa’s regional Mental Health and Disability Services system in 2013 and has continued since. I am particularly proud of two bipartisan laws this year that address major needs.
First, HF 2456 expands mental health services for Iowans in their own communities with access centers that offer short-term care for those in crisis, treatment teams to provide individualized mental health support to Iowans in their homes, comprehensive crisis services that include a 24-hour hotline and mobile response, and intensive residential services that give those with severe mental illness the chance to live with dignity in their own homes.
Second, SF 2113 ensures training to help Iowa educators recognize the signs of depression and other mental health challenges in students and refer them to appropriate services.
Iowa’s mental health overhaul will continue for years to come. Next up, a committee will study how to pay for these and other improvements so that our mental health system can meet Iowans’ needs long term.
NOTHING TO CELEBRATE: 2 YEARS OF IOWA’S PRIVATIZED MEDICAID MESS
In April 2016, the Branstad/Reynolds Administration turned Iowa Medicaid over to for-profit, out-of-state corporations, promising the move would improve Iowans’ health, expand access to health services in our communities and save money.
On the second anniversary of privatized Medicaid, Iowans have nothing to celebrate.
VIDEO: See why Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque says Iowans are paying the price for a health care system that is collapsing under the weight of greed and arrogance.
A new report from the state Ombudsman confirms what we already know from Medicaid patients, health care providers and Iowa taxpayers who contact us with their concerns every day: privatized Medicaid is failing Iowans.
Even worse, there’s no evidence Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans have a plan to fix the system and help Iowans.
That’s why I supported bipartisan legislation this year (SF 2058) to end privatized Medicaid and put the state of Iowa back in charge of a system that provides affordable health care to more than 560,000 citizens. Unfortunately, Senate Republican leaders did not bring up that legislation for consideration.
KIDS DON’T DESERVE LUNCH SHAMING
Throwing away a student’s lunch, giving them a less desirable meal, branding them with wristbands, banishing them to a separate table, and making them do chores for food at school. This is known as lunch shaming.
A 2014 report found that nearly half of all school districts use some form of lunch shaming to compel parents to pay up when they’re behind on their children’s lunch bill.
No kid deserves to be caught in this situation. Kids don’t want other students knowing they haven’t eaten or that they can’t pay for their lunch. And we don’t want them going hungry because that just makes it a lot harder for them to focus on their studies.
The Iowa House and Senate are working to fix the problem. Under HF 2467, school districts will come up with a plan to deal with lunch debt without embarrassing students. The bill also allows schools to use their “flexibility fund” to cover student lunch debt.
This is a legislative update from State Senator Matt McCoy, representing the west part of Des Moines, portions of West Des Moines and northwest Warren County.
For bio, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/mccoy. Follow Senator McCoy on Facebook at