Governor Unveils New Job Partnership for Veterans

This week, the governor’s office launched a new, public-private partnership called Home Base Iowa. This effort will match up veterans with jobs statewide. Former Congressman Leonard Boswell and Casey’s General Store CEO Bob Myers are co-chairing the effort.

The partnership will raise private funds to support a national marketing plan that will include reaching out to veterans in-person, on social media, and through military publications. The partnership coincides with several hundred thousand military service members soon ending their military career and entering the workforce. The program’s goals are to make these former service members aware of the quality employment opportunities that exist in Iowa and eventually make them permanent residents.

Teacher Leadership Program Off and Running

The centerpiece of this year’s education reform bill, House File 215, took a big step towards acceptance and reality in the wider world of Iowa’s education system this week. The Department of Education announced that every school district in Iowa (all 346) applied for teacher leadership planning grants.

The legislation created a four-year process to develop a statewide teacher leadership and compensation system, with the goal of all school districts participating by the 2016-17 school year.

The 2013-14 school year represents an important planning stage. The legislature appropriated $3.5 million for planning grants made available to all public school districts. The purpose is to provide the resources necessary to facilitate a local planning process that includes school administrators, teachers and parents. Technical assistance will be provided by the Iowa Department of Education and Area Education Agencies.

A controversial piece of the legislation was the choice to make the teacher leadership system optional for school districts, rather than forcing a mandate on them. The hope of legislators was that the program would be enticing enough that all districts would want to participate. And while accepting a planning grant does not commit a school district to adopting a teacher leadership and compensation system, the fact that every district applied for the grants shows that they are taking the system seriously.

Under the next step in the process, school district leaders who want to launch a teacher leadership and compensation system in the 2014-15 school year must submit their proposals to the Iowa Department of Education by Jan. 31. After review of the applications by the Teacher Leadership Commission the Department will notify the first group of school districts whose plans are selected in March. The rollout of the program will take 3 years, with 1/3 of the students in Iowa going into the program each of the years until full implementation.

The system that “will give teachers an opportunity to be involved in school leadership besides just moving into a principal job…” providing a “different leadership path than the traditional,” according to a Sioux City school official.

While the program requires districts to meet some minimum requirements, such as paying teachers a minimum of $33,500, getting 25 percent of their workforce involved in leadership roles and having the system in place in every school, Sioux City stated well the flexibility for districts in the program: “There just is a wide range of needs in the buildings, so we’re going to structure these positions in order to support the teachers and needs we have.”

Right-to-Work States Hold Less Debt

A few weeks ago, Barron’s released a report reviewing each state’s debt obligations and pension commitments. This report concluded that Iowa’s state debt ranks as 2nd best in the country, trailing only Nebraska. A major trend seen from this report is that Republicans know how to limit debt. 23 of the top 27 states have at least one Republican-controlled chamber in its legislature, and the top 17 states all have a Republican governor.

When looking closer at the rankings however, another trend can be seen. Every one of the 16 states with the lowest debts is a Right-to Work (RTW) state. A RTW state is a state that does not force workers to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Even more telling is that 17 of the 20 states with the most debt are forced-unionism states without a RTW law.

RTW states consistently rank at the top when it comes to best states for business. With more businesses being attracted to states with RTW laws, it helps to broaden the base of taxation and makes it much simpler to balance the state’s books and keep its fiscal house in order.

Federal Medicaid Match Rate Decreases 2.39%

Since its enactment in 1965, the Medicaid program has used the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to determine the federal government’s share of the cost of covered services in state Medicaid programs. The FMAP formula is based on a three-year average of state per capita personal income compared to the national average. A state’s FMAP will decline when its per capita personal income increases relative to the national average.

In FFY 2014, the Medicaid FMAP rate in Iowa was 57.93%. Revised personal income data released in September shows that Iowa’s FFY 2015 FMAP rate will be 55.54%. This is a 2.39% drop, which is the largest FMAP reduction in the country. The decrease is larger than anticipated, and is expected to increase annual state costs by $80 million.

On one hand, it is beneficial that the personal income of Iowans is growing compared to the average national income. However, this also means that the state of Iowa has to pay $80 million more for the Medicaid program than it did last year…with no increase in services provided or people serv

NEWS FROM DISTRICT 96

Friday November 15th, the Delaware County Economic Development and the Edgewood Economic Development groups led a Legislative Roundtable in Edgewood for area legislators. They toured the Kendrick Forest Products in the morning, which has the largest sawmill in the state. After lunch and the Roundtable, we toured the Edgewood Locker.

December will bring more meetings as I prepare for the beginning of the session in January. If you have any concerns for the upcoming session, please contact me by email at lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at 319-480-1997. Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

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