Strengthening Iowa’s economy, creating jobs, and keeping the state budget balanced will be the main focus of the 2011 Legislative Session. The “Growing Jobs, Growing Iowa” agenda, used for the 2011 legislative session, was rolled out this week.

Signs are pointing to a stronger Iowa economy as Iowa adds another 15,400 jobs in the first three months of the year and a Manpower survey said Iowa had the third best employment outlook in the country.

Iowa’s leading index of economic indicators continues to rise steadily.  Iowa’s unemployment rate is ninth lowest in the country and, according to the USDA, farm income is expected to rise by 10 percent this year.

For the third year in a row, Iowa was ranked in the top ten as one of CNBC’s “Top States for Doing Business” and a Kids Count survey ranked Iowa as the 6th best place to raise kids in the country.

After making Iowa a world leader in renewable energy with 8,700 “green” jobs and expanding support for small businesses across Iowa, would also work to encourage businesses that offer good paying jobs to locate or expand in Iowa.

Create Jobs & Keep Iowa’s Economy Growing

House Democrats will continue to focus on small businesses and renewable energy.  We’ve already expanded support for Iowa’s Small Business Development Centers and launched a new Save Our Small Business Fund.  By making Iowa a world leader in renewable energy, we now have over 8,700 good-paying “green” jobs across the state. We are 2nd in the nation in wind energy production and lead the nation in the production of ethanol and biodiesel.

Our plan to create jobs and keep Iowa’s economy growing will include, continuing to help small businesses get started or expand to create jobs, create good-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs by helping the renewable energy industry expand in Iowa, and encourage businesses that offer good-paying jobs to locate or expand in Iowa.

Balance the Budget & Reform Government

When the recession hit Iowa last year, House Democrats reduced spending and reorganized state government to save taxpayers $300 million and keep the state budget balanced.  At the same time, we cut pay and eliminated out-of-state travel for legislators and staff.  Without raising taxes, we ended the last fiscal year with $265 million more revenue than projected, boosting our savings accounts to $550 million.  Iowa is also one of a few states to score the “triple crown” of state financing by earning “AAA” ratings from all three major national credit rating agencies.  The non-partisan Pew Center for the States recently rated Iowa #2 in the country for fiscal strength.

Our plan to balance the budget & reform government by balancing the budget without raising taxes, refill the state’s savings accounts within two years, review corporate tax credits to ensure they create the jobs promised, and establish a toll-free line to report wasteful government spending.

Strengthen Iowa’s Middle Class

House Democrats believe a strong middle class is the foundation of Iowa’s economy.  Even in tough economic times, a quality education and health care are essential for a prosperous middle class. A growing middle class also depends on keeping young people in Iowa with a high quality of life and good-paying jobs.  While reducing other areas of the budget, we boosted funding for K-12 schools, expanded voluntary preschool, and kept tuition in check at community colleges and state universities.  In an effort to keep health care affordable for middle class families, we’ve expanded coverage to all children, required insurance companies to cover the services Iowans expect, and stopped massive rate hikes by insurance companies without explanation.

Our plan to strengthen Iowa’s middle class includes raising state standards so our kids have the skills to succeed in the competitive job market, ensure state funding goes to classrooms, not bureaucrats and continue to ensure every Iowa child has access to health care.