Archive for April 1, 2012
Retiring Senate President Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg helped create Iowa’s nationally recognized community college system. I’m working closely with him so Southeastern Community College and Eastern Iowa Community College as well as other community colleges can do even more to ease Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers. Business leaders say that would help grow Iowa’s economy. Unfortunately, deep cuts in state funding over the last 10 years have caused sharp increases in tuition and fees, according to a new report by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.
Act now to keep Iowa’s economy growing
The recent report of rising state revenues is another sign that Iowa’s response to the national recession is working. Our economy is improving, and now’s the time to strengthen the foundations of a lasting recovery.
When the deep national recession hit, we reduced the annual state budget by hundreds of millions of dollars by reforming and downsizing state government and putting the focus on job creation and long-term growth.
We’ve made a good start, one that has put Iowa ahead of other states. Now is the time to invest in education, job creation and other opportunities to build a strong Iowa economy for the future.
Local Iowans to serve on state boards, commissions
This spring, Governor Branstad appointed many local Iowans to serve on boards and commissions. These statewide panels are responsible for advising the Governor, the Legislature and state agencies.
Most of the members are regular Iowans from all parts of the state. Their participation is what makes our democracy strong. Thank you to all who volunteer their time to build a stronger, brighter future for all Iowans, including:
** Real Estate Commission: Carol Haines, West Burlington
** Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Commission: Thomas Greene, Burlington
To learn more about Iowa’s boards and commissions and how you can serve, go to http://openup.iowa.gov/boards/.
Controversial legislation to fund a new nuclear power plant will lead to significantly higher electrical rates if legislation to build a new nuclear power plant becomes law. That was the message I and other legislators brought to a Statehouse news conference on March 20. The legislation puts consumers at risk in order to finance a project that Wall Street investors see as too risky. See video from the event at http://youtu.be/eLMcqWT0W7w.
Education reforms to prepare students for 21st century jobs
I share Governor Branstad’s education goals of raising academic standards, improving the effectiveness of educators and using innovation to enhance learning.
As we choose the best ways to reach these goals, my colleagues and I are listening to parents, teachers, students and concerned Iowans. Their suggestions are the basis of the education reforms contained in Senate File 2284. This legislation is still a work in progress but key elements include:
** Focusing on early reading and small class sizes in the younger grades so that teachers can help struggling students catch up.
** Helping students learn at their own pace to master the basics and advance more quickly in the subjects they love most.
** Expanding the core curriculum to include arts, music and technology.
** Expanding teacher-to-teacher collaboration and coaching.
** Using online learning to enhance and extend offerings in our local schools.
** Pilot projects to extend the school year and school day to measure the impact on student achievement.
** Parent liaisons for schools with struggling students.
I am passionately interested in creating world-class schools here in Iowa. I believe that by working together, we can take several steps forward this year to provide Iowa students with the best educational opportunities.
Please continue sharing your ideas as we build on what our schools do right and improve in areas where we can do better.
Community colleges can help strengthen Iowa’s economy
Iowa’s skilled worker shortage hurts our state’s economic growth. Governor Branstad and I agree on that point.
To solve the problem, we need to change direction. Specifically, we need to make it easier—not harder—for Iowa workers to improve their skills.
Since 1991, enrollment at community colleges has more than doubled to nearly 106,000. At the same time, a 21 percent drop in state investment has made getting an education more expensive for Iowa families by forcing sharp increases in tuition and fees.
We need to turn this trend around. Our community colleges already work closely with Iowa businesses to identify local and statewide needs. Our community colleges have shown they can help Iowans gain the skills to fill those job openings and earn industry-recognized certificates in welding, technology, direct care and other areas.
Given that record of success, it’s time to ask community colleges to do more. That means providing enough state funding to get the job done, without making tuition unaffordable.
As the 2012 session winds down, I’m working with my colleagues in the Legislature on the best ways to grow Iowa’s economy and create jobs. At the top of my list is more investment in Iowa’s community colleges. This is a win-win opportunity for Iowa businesses looking for employees and Iowa workers looking for jobs.
For a new report on how funding is impacting our community colleges, go to the Iowa Fiscal Partnership Web site.
Bipartisan effort restores help to unemployed Iowans
Unemployed Iowans will continue to get the help they need, thanks to an agreement by the Senate, the House and Governor Branstad to restore funding to Iowa Workforce Development and ensure all remaining field offices stay open through the end of the current fiscal year.
Senate File 517, approved with overwhelming, bipartisan support during the 2011 session, included specific funding to keep open dozens of local workforce offices. These offices help Iowans search for jobs, prepare for interviews and improve their skills, while helping businesses find the qualified employees they need.
Governor Branstad item-vetoed restrictions and conditions on appropriations in the legislation that would have kept all 55 workforce field offices open. Recently, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Governor’s veto was illegal, making all funding for the Department of Workforce Development void.
While the agreement to restore funding to Iowa Workforce Development cleans up the immediate mess created by the Governor’s illegal veto, it will be difficult to repair all the damage. For example, I am skeptical about the effectiveness of offering essential employment services through computer kiosks, and am looking at reopening some of the closed workforce offices where they are most critically needed.
Part of Iowa’s recovery from the national recession includes doing the best job possible to help unemployed Iowans find work.
April is National Donate Life Month
Iowa is consistently recognized as one of the most “donation friendly” states in the country when it comes to organ and tissue donation. Sixty-seven percent of adult Iowans are registered donors—much higher than the national average of only 33 percent.
Almost 113,000 Americans currently wait for a life-saving organ transplant. Over 630 of those people are Iowans. More than 100 people can benefit from one person’s decision to be an organ and tissue donor.
During National Donate Life Month, I encourage you to register aws an organ, tissue and eye donor by marking “yes” to donation on your driver’s license or identification card. You can also register online at www.IowaDonorRegistry.org.
Young people wanted for Youth Council
The State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council is currently taking applications for its 2012-2013 council. The council is made up of young people between the ages of 14 and 20 with an interest in government. Members will gain leadership and civic engagement experience, training and opportunities to network.
Applications received by May 1 will receive priority consideration and new council members will be selected by June 30. For more information and how to apply, visit www.icyd.iowa.gov/SIYAC.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
The Greatest Canadian
With the PPACA being adjudicated in the Supreme Court one can’t help but look north to Canada and the great Tommy Douglas. Douglas was able to get single payer universal health care in Saskatchewan and then as Canadian Prime Minister was able to expand it to all of Canada. Those on the rightwing spew a lot of lies about the Canadian system, but it is much more effective for all at half the price that we pay for a crap system known as Tea Bagger Health Care.
Related: Insurance companies want to keep Mandates
It should come as little surprise that insurance companies want to keep the mandates for people to buy insurance. It’s those darn consumer protections that they don’t want. So in that vein, they want to elect Republicans to help strip any health care regulations that are left of consumer protections while keeping competitors like Medicare for all out of the market.
Best Buy to close 50 stores
Not sure what this means. My best guess is that Republican brakes on the economy have taken hold in some sectors. With Republicans fighting hard to wreck the economy in order to blame it on Obama and democrats working hard to put in place some common sensesolutions that will drive the economy, I think we can expect more reports of the economy advancing on some fronts while sputtering on others.
PPACA parts are popular.
According to the Kaiser Foundation poll that has been polling on health care issues for a long, long time, when people are asked about their views on the PPACA in general the reaction is split positive and negative pretty evenly. Yet when asked about individual parts of the PPACA (such as tax credits for small businesses) reactions are overwhelmingly positive. Conclusion: In general people have no idea what is in the bill, but they sure seem to want what is in it. Way to go media (especially Fox) on your misleads and lies.
Dick Cheney, a man who is arguably responsible for a huge number of deaths, receives a new heart and hope for an extended life. At the same time much of America is in a rage over the death of a young, unarmed black youth in Florida whose life was ended by a lone vigilante when the black youth decided to go to the local convenient mart at the wrong time.
The black youth was 17 and looked to be on the verge of a life of hope also. Of course as we all know the vigilante is still free, despite admitting to shooting the black youth.
Stories like this illustrate the huge tension that exist in this country between the promise that America holds out to its citizens and the realities that face those same citizens every day.
Bull Connor must be smiling somewhere
Anyone else have thoughts of Bull Connor when hearing stories of the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida? Sure, the Sanford police department isn’t as heavy handed as Connor used to be, but some of the same old strains of race relations and the police seem to be returning.
The party of Life
Republicans continue to want to make it impossible for a woman, any woman no matter the medical situation, to get an abortion. At the same time they push to let anyone and everyone have a gun along with laws that allow them to shoot and kill someone and then walk away without so much as an investigation.
Maybe the purchase of a gun should come with an intra-cranial ultra sound that could search for signs of psychopathology?
here is another take on the same idea -
Ok – No fair using fingers or palms on this one. Last week many of you failed the 8th grade science exam. Do you want to stay in junior high forever? Here is another chance. If you fail this, I will be forced to call your parents. I mean it this time. Aron, are you laughing at me?
1) If 5x – 4 = 26, what does x equal?
2) -7 is
b) An integer
c) A whole number
d) A prime number
3) Michael is two years older than three times Jennifer’s age. If Jennifer is j years old, how would you calculate Michael’s age?
4) If x + 4 1/3 = 7, what does x equal?
a) 3 1/3
b) 2 2/3
c) 3 2/3
d) 11 1/3
5) 5.5 squared is:
a) Between 16 and 25
b) Less than 16
c) Greater than 36
d) Between 25 and 36
6) 2, 2, 3, 4, 5
Given the above set of numbers “2″ is the:
d) Standard deviation
7) If .4 < x < 1/2, x could equal:
b) None of the above
8) What’s the value of (10-5)^2 + 12/4?
9) If m + n = n, then what must m equal?
10) If 1/3 (y + 4) = 3, then what does y equal?
Piece of cake! Once again I stole this online here: http://www.blogthings.com/couldyoupasseighthgrademathquiz/ Since I am sure you all passed you are dismissed.
OOOOPS – let’s just check those answers, huh?
1) c) 6
2) b) an integer
3) a) 3j + 2
4) b) 2 2/3
5) d) between 25 & 36
6) b) mode
7) c) 45%
8) b) 28 (25 + 3)
9) b) 0
10) d) 5 (multiply by 3 on both sides to eliminate the fraction gets you y + 4 = 9 or 5)