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Iowa Opinions

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Help children build the future within Iowa

For too many years, many of Iowa's bright young people have been leaving Iowa for better opportunities and higher-paying jobs in other states. Many of them do not return to live in Iowa again. If this "brain drain" continues, as older workers retire, Iowa will soon face a severe workforce shortage that will threaten the long-term stability and prosperity of our state. The time is now to take bold action to transform our economy and create better-paying jobs that will make Iowa a better place for people to build their futures. The Legislature has a unique opportunity on May 29 to pass the Iowa Values Fund and make a smart investment in Iowa's future.

This is an incredibly important moment for the future of our state. On April 30, the Iowa House of Representatives passed the Iowa Values Fund by a

strong bipartisan vote of 79-19. Unfortunately, the Senate adjourned without taking action on the Values Fund, prompting the Governor to call the Legislature back for a special session that will begin on May 29.

The Iowa Values Fund will create over 50,000 good-paying jobs in growth industries like biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and information solutions. It will improve the training and quality of the Iowa workforce, expand the cultural and recreational opportunities that make Iowa a good place for businesses to locate and people to live, and it will reinforce our commitment to our schools. It will enhance our state parks, boost the research efforts of our world-class universities, and provide funding for

regional economic development efforts so that local leaders can make the best decisions for the people in their area.

The Iowa Values Fund has all the ingredients to help Iowa attract more educated workers who can command higher salaries. These educated workers want good-paying jobs in dynamic, high-growth industries. They want good schools and strong neighborhoods to raise their families. They want appealing communities with parks and recreation, and rich cultural offerings. The Iowa Values Fund will help Iowa accomplish all of these

goals while building on our previous success, and become an even more desirable place to live.

The Iowa Values Fund is crucial to Iowa's future success at attracting young educated people to raise their families and build their futures here. We cannot pass up the unique window of opportunity to distinguish ourselves from the competition of other states. Many other states are mired in huge budget deficits and cannot invest in new jobs as Iowa can with the Iowa Values Fund. (Indeed, several states are considering borrowing billions of dollars just to maintain their existing budgets, let alone trying to create new jobs.) Nationwide, the unemployment rate for people ages 20-24 has reached 10.1 percent, and many new college graduates are having trouble finding good jobs. With the Iowa Values Fund, we can create those jobs here in Iowa.

We have the ability to create the kinds of high-paying jobs and attractive communities that will draw more young educated people to Iowa from other states, and will convince Iowa's young people to build their futures here.

Please contact your state Senator and urge him or her to pass the Iowa Values Fund on May 29, creating an immediate and substantial investment that will help our children and grandchildren build a better future here in Iowa.

Lt. Governor Sally Pederson writes a monthly column on state issues for Pilot-Tribune readers.