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It’s time to put politics aside, work together

Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 12:32 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 12:34 p.m. CST

While it can be a tedious process, it’s time to put politics aside and work together to pass a balanced state budget that strengthens Iowa’s middle class and builds a highly skilled workforce.  

With just six weeks left in the legislative session, the House and Senate are both working on putting the state budget together. We’ve now seen blueprints from each of the seven subcommittees that make up the state’s budget.

We have to do more to build our skilled workforce because the future of Iowa’s economy depends on it. In just five years, 62 percent of the jobs in Iowa will require some education after high school.

However, right now only 40 percent of adults between 26 and 64 in Iowa have an associate’s degree or higher. 

That shows we have a skilled worker shortage now and it’s going to get worse if we don’t take action soon.

Whether through community college, private college, or one of our three state universities, we need Iowans to get training beyond high school. Higher education must also be affordable for all families. 

With strong revenues and a budget surplus this year, now is the time to build our skilled workforce by expanding training and educational opportunities for Iowans of all ages.

I serve as Ranking Member on the Administration and Regulation Budget Subcommittee. This assignment puts me in an excellent position to help keep the state budget balanced while meeting the critical needs of Iowans, especially those most vulnerable — children and seniors. 

This budget committee covers many of the administrative and regulatory departments and agencies in the executive branch. Among them are the Governor’s Office, Secretary of State’s Office, Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, Department of Human Rights, Office of Drug Control Policy and others.  Basically, any office or department that doesn’t fit neatly into one of the other budget bills, falls into my subcommittee.

While we’re still working to reach final agreement, our portion of the overall budget is coming together more quickly than most of the other areas. On Wednesday night, Administration and Regulation was the second budget bill to pass out of the House.  It now heads to the Senate.

During floor debate, I argued that Iowans deserve, expect, and place a high priority on good, clean, transparent government. We have an opportunity to reflect this priority with the Administration and Regulation budget bill.

We must adequately fund the Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board, and the new Public Information Board. The Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board helps insure proper recording, auditing, and disclosure of campaign fundraising and expenditures, not only for legislators, but also political committees and candidates at many levels. 

They have a tremendous workload related to campaign and committee financial disclosure audits.  We need to provide them with the resources necessary to not only keep up, but to get caught up. Transparent government depends on it.

The new Public Information Board is set to open doors on July 1 of this year. This new board has the potential to provide a valuable service to the citizens of Iowa. They are tasked to help enforce Iowa’s open meetings and records laws. 

They will offer informal advice to citizens and declaratory orders to local governments concerning open meetings and records laws. The new board will offer training, investigate complaints, seek resolution of disputes, and enforce local government transparency laws. 

House Republicans and Governor Branstad disagree on funding levels for the Public Information Board. The House majority party wants to cut funding for the new board from $490,000 to $100,000. 

During floor debate, I proposed that we move closer to what the Governor suggests. We must adequately fund this effort and put the new board in a position to get off to a good start and further ensure good, clean, open, transparent government.

I’m proud to represent Newton, Colfax, Baxter, Mingo, Kellogg, Prairie City, Lambs Grove, Ira, and Valeria. 

Feel free to contact me anytime at (641) 521-9260 or dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov.

Visit my website at www.electkelley.com.  ‘Friend’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter. 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

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