Good news for Burlington! The transit system in Burlington has been honored as the “Most Improved Urban Transit System of the Year” by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
During 2011, ridership on Burlington Urban System—BUS—increased 18.15 percent. At the same time, the cost per ride dropped by 16.27 percent.
Doug Roelfs, transit manager with BUS, attributes the gains to an increase in demand for transit service and to loyal riders.
This is the third time Burlington has received the award. The first time was in 2009.
Encouraging job creation and economic growth
With the Iowa economy on the mend, the Legislature focused this year on continuing job creation and economic growth.
We approved expanded job training, smart tax breaks, investments in the industries of the future, strengthening education, and ensuring workers and businesses have the resources they need.
Not every good idea made it to the Governor’s desk, but those that did will have a positive impact. They include:
• Jumpstarting new Iowa energy industries through tax credits for the construction and installation of solar energy systems and geothermal heat pumps (SF 2342)
• Continuing the tax break for consumers filling up with ethanol-blended fuel at the pump (HF 2472)
• Improving the flow of commerce by extending Iowa’s commercial and industrial highway network (SF 2153)
• Boosting Iowa’s agriculture economy through year-round farmers’ markets (HF 2092)
• Keeping businesses in our communities by making it easier for an employer to sell their company to local workers through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (HF 2465)
• Investing in innovative local economic development ideas that create good jobs and growth in Iowa communities (SF 2239)
• Expanding opportunities for local auto dealers to offer vehicles for sale at fairs, shows and other exhibitions (SF 2249)
The Senate also approved several job creation initiatives that the House did not take up. I’ll keep pushing for these and other common-sense efforts to boost Iowa’s economy:
• Ensuring more publicly funded projects in Iowa use American-made goods.
• Allowing Iowa businesses the chance to match out-of-state bids when selling products and services to the state.
• Helping communities clean-up and revitalize their business districts and industrial parks.
• Leveling the playing field for Iowa businesses by collecting sales tax on Internet purchases from large, out-of-state companies.
• Cutting taxes for low-income, working Iowa households by increasing the state Earned Income Tax Credit.
• Increasing tax credits to encourage local wind energy projects.
U.S. Chamber puts Iowa in the top 10
Iowa ranks in the top 10 for growth, productivity and livability, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Iowa placed fifth in growth of economic productivity, sixth in per-capita income growth, ninth in exports growth and eleventh in growth of gross state product.
Iowa is succeeding by expanding in business and commerce, with the greatest job increases in management, transportation and warehousing.
The report, Enterprising States: Policies that Produce, ranks states based on long-term and short-term growth, expansion of gross state product, productivity, income growth and livability. To read more, go here.
Saving money, growing jobs with clean energy incentives
It’s been a hot summer so far and Iowans are thinking about more efficient ways to cool and heat their homes and businesses.
The solar energy option will be more economical than ever thanks to the new solar energy tax credits I helped approve this year. Increasing Iowa’s use of solar will help create jobs installing solar projects throughout the state.
Senate File 2342 provides state tax credits for solar electric, solar hot water and geothermal energy systems. Iowans can get solar tax credits up to $3,000 per project for homeowners and $15,000 for businesses.
The legislation also provides a state tax credit up to 20 percent of a federal tax credit for geothermal heat pumps, and a ten-year property tax exemption for any increase in value due to installing a geothermal system.
Let’s level the playing field for local business
As Iowa communities continue to recover from the national recession, we should do all we can to ensure our local businesses have a fair chance to compete.
If a company wants to sell their goods to Iowans, they should play by the same rules as Iowa companies with Iowa employees.
That’s why I believe Iowa needs to collect sales tax on Internet purchases. Failing to collect sales tax from online businesses—some of the biggest corporations in the world—gives them an unfair advantage.
Large, out-of-state companies should help support our schools and community services just like local businesses.
Senate File 2330, which got bipartisan approval in the Senate this year, would have helped level the playing field by collecting sales tax from online companies. This effort didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk, but I’ll continue to fight for fairness for our local businesses.
Recreation is a win-win for Iowa
Lots of families take advantage of the summer to visit the many parks, trails, lakes, rivers and community attractions that make living in Iowa so great.
You can get all kinds of ideas for your Iowa vacation at www.traveliowa.com, the state’s informative, colorful, interactive tourism Web site. You’ll find a calendar of events, regional attractions, places to stay and trip planning tools.
Travel and recreation have a lot of offer Iowans of all ages—and it boosts our economy too. Tourism in Iowa generates more than $6 billion in expenditures annually, supports 62,000 jobs statewide and generates $321 million in state taxes.
During the 2012 session, we worked to increase recreational opportunities stimulate Iowa’s economy by:
• Helping communities promote local attractions
• Investing in watershed projects that improve the quality of Iowa streams, rivers and lakes
• Expanding recreational trails for walking, biking, boating and snowmobiling
So get on out there this summer and enjoy all that makes Iowa a great place to live, work and play!
Your input needed on rest areas
The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to know what you think of Iowa’s interstate rest areas. Your input will help the DOT plan for future rest area needs. You can take the short survey online at www.IowaDOTRestAreaStudy.com through July 16. Printed surveys will also be available at all rest areas and weigh stations.
Planning grants for watershed projects
Watershed management authorities can apply for a new grant to develop a comprehensive watershed plan to reduce flood risks and improve water quality. Award recipients will receive up to $187,330 and 18 months to develop their plan.
Proposals are due August 24. Complete details on this and other watershed planning opportunities are available here.
Taking care in the summer heat
With the record high temperatures we’ve seen here in Iowa this year, the Iowa Department of Public Health is reminding us all to take precautions in extreme heat and humidity.
Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but those at greatest risk include seniors, babies and small kids, and people who are overweight, work outdoors or have chronic health problems.
To protect yourself:
• Drink lots of water.
• If you sweat, add salt and minerals to you diet with bananas, salty crackers or sports drinks.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• Wear sunscreen and hats that shade your face.
• Stay in the shade or air conditioned areas.
• Work slowly and stop immediately if you feel weak or dizzy.
For more information on how to best handle the summer heat, go to www.cdc.gov/Features/ExtremeHeat.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601