October 4, 2018

    Iowa Needs a Skilled Workforce, Higher Wages
    Great Iowa Treasure Hunt; Do You Have Unclaimed Money?
    Input Sought on Children’s Mental Health Services
    Books Closed on Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
    Iowans have Above Average Student Loan Default Rate
    Tree Stand Hunting Safety
    Work Group Addresses School Health Requirements

    Iowa Needs a Skilled Workforce, Higher Wages

    According to a new report, wages in Iowa continue to slide for all but the wealthiest Iowans with real average hourly earnings decreasing 0.2 percent since last year.

    Since Iowa remains a low wage state and also faces a skilled worker shortage, making additional job training available to Iowa workers is one way to give people more opportunities to land a good paying job. In Iowa, three out of every five jobs require some training beyond high school but only a third of our workforce actually meets those requirements.

    Over the last several years, new tax breaks for the wealthiest Iowans and corporations have made education after high school more expensive and limited job training opportunities for Iowans who need it the most.

    Next session, House Democrats will work to get the Legislature back focused on the basics and make sure every Iowan can get some education or training after high school to land a good-paying job.

    Last session, lawmakers worked together and took a small step to boost our skilled workforce. The Future Ready Iowa program was created to reach a goal of having 70% of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by the year 2025.

    The legislation creates a new apprenticeship program designed to incentivize small and medium sized programs to create new or more apprenticeships and creates a volunteer mentor program; a summer youth intern pilot program for at risk youth; an Iowa Employer Innovation Program focused on training for high demand jobs and a Future Ready Iowa Skilled Workforce Grant Program for state universities or accredited private colleges.

    Great Iowa Treasure Hunt; Do You Have Unclaimed Money?

    A Des Moines class-action fee lawsuit has required $11 million to be returned to Polk County residents. Thus far, only 10,000 of 60,000 Des Moines residents owed money have been collected, leaving $8 million unclaimed. These unclaimed funds are listed on the State Treasurer’s Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website.

    Every year, millions of dollars gets turned into the State Treasurer’s office as lost or abandoned property. This property comes in the form of safety deposit box items, dormant financial accounts, unclaimed utility refunds, uncashed checks, and stock certificates and dividends. The State Treasurer’s office becomes the holder of these assets and keeps track of these items on the website.

    The Treasurer must give away the remaining $8 million by April 2019, or the remaining funds are returned to the City of Des Moines.

    To date, the State Treasurer’s office has returned $251,916,659 back to the rightful owners. To see if you have unclaimed property or money visit: https://greatiowatreasurehunt.gov.

    Input Sought on Children’s Mental Health Services

    Listening posts have been scheduled across the state to receive input on children’s mental health needs. The listening posts will be focused on understanding what mental health services are needed by children and families locally. The listening posts are organized by the local Area Education Agencies in cooperation with the Children’s System State Board.

    The Children’s System State Board is responsible for developing and implementing the Children’s Mental Health System. The board consists of 18 members that are appointed by the Governor and is co-chaired by the Department of Human Services and Department of Education. The board will review the information gathered at the listening posts and develop a strategic plan to help children with mental health issues.

    The listening posts will be held at the following dates and locations:

    Oct. 8, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
    Heartland AEA
    6500 Corporate Dr., Johnston

    Oct. 8, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    Fairfield Arts & Convention Center (Great Prairie AEA)
    200 North Main St., Fairfield

    Oct. 10, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
    Green Hills AEA
    257 Swan St., Creston

    Oct. 10, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    Carrie Lee Elementary Auditorium (Keystone AEA)
    210 Vernon St., Decorah

    Oct. 10, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    Central Rivers AEA
    9184 265th St., Suite B, Clear Lake

    Oct. 11, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    Grant Wood AEA
    4401 6th St. SW, Cedar Rapids

    Oct. 11, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
    Mississippi Bend AEA
    729 21st St., Bettendorf

    For those unable to attend one of these sessions, input can be provided in the following ways:

    • An online survey. The survey deadline is Oct. 12.
    • An online listening post will run from noon to 1 p.m. on Oct. 4. To join from a computer, visit: https://zoom.us/j/290354386. To join by phone, call 1-646-876-9923. When prompted, enter meeting code 290-354-386

    For more information regarding the Children’s System State Board, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/about/mhds-advisory-groups/childrens-system-state-board?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

    Books Closed on Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

    While the budgeting year technically ended on June 30th of this year, the books officially closed on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget this past week. The announced surplus of $127 million is welcomed news but also needs to be examined more closely.

    While the $127 million may seem like a large number, the announced surplus also comes after a second consecutive year of budget cuts of more than $30 million to Iowa’s schools and programs to Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens. The budget cuts of the previous year included cuts to child abuse prevention, rape kit processing, and higher tuition for Iowa’s students.

    Iowans have Above Average Student Loan Default Rate

    Iowa has 12.6% of student borrowers who were scheduled to begin repayment in 2014 in default within three years. That percentage is slightly higher than the national figure, 11.2%. A report by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission shows that Iowa for-profit colleges (15%) and community colleges (18%) have the highest default rates in Iowa. Regent institutions (3%) and private, not-for-profit colleges (6%) have rates that are comparatively low.

    Critics have said that the Future Ready Iowa Legislation did not go far enough by not increasing the availability of college aid to Iowans to obtain a degree, which would have gone towards addressing Iowa’s student debt problem. By 2025, 68% of the jobs in Iowa will require some postsecondary credential. Currently, only 61% of Iowans have at least some college education.

    To read the report go to: https://www.iowacollegeaid.gov/sites/default/files/Condition_of_Higher-Education_in_Iowa_2018_comp.pdf.

    Barriers to Obtaining a College Degree Sited

    Another report, “Opening Doors for Young Parents” by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, states that Iowa has 36,000 children that have parents ages 18 to 24, of which only 17% have completed an associate degree or higher. To vitally address this, the report states that assisting these young adults is needed in “access to affordable, high-quality child and health care; paid time off from their jobs to care for sick children; and scheduling policies that allow them to plan for family needs in advance.”

    Read this report at: https://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-openingdoorsforyoungparents-2018.pdf#page=14.

    Iowa Doing Well in Attracting Minorities to Higher Education

    On a positive note, a report card from the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center rates Iowa sixth in the nation for attracting and graduating black students at public colleges and universities.

    Read the report card at: https://race.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Black-Students-at-Public-Colleges-and-Universities-A-50-State-Report-Card-Harper-and-Simmons-1-9-26.pdf.

    Tree Stand Hunting Safety

    Deer hunting began in Iowa last month with the youth and disabled seasons and the first archery season started on October 1st. As many hunters will use deer stands while hunting, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has the following reminders for making your tree stand and hunting trip both safe and successful.

      • Always remove and inspect your equipment.
      • Three point rule - always have three points of contact to the ladder or steps before moving. Make sure to check the security of each step before putting any of your weight on it.
      • Try to hunt with a buddy. If you do go alone, make sure to let others know your exact hunting location and the time you are planning to return.
      • Always wear a safety harness when you are in your tree stand.
      • Attach a safety strap to the tree so if you do fall, it won’t be for more than 12 inches.
      • Make sure to follow all instructions and directions provided by the manufacturer when setting up your stand.
      • Bring devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, and flashlight to the stand with you. Make sure you have them within arm’s reach at all times.
      • Tree selection – select a straight tree that is within the size limits recommended in your stand’s directions.
      • When bringing up your gear to the stand, make sure to use a haul line and to unload your firearm or bow of all bullets and arrows.
      • Never leave the stand in a tree for more than two weeks to prevent damage from changing weather conditions.

    For more information regarding safety tips and hunting information, please visit http://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/.

    Work Group Addresses School Health Requirements

    A group of health care professionals and educators are currently looking at student health reporting requirements. This would include immunization requirements, lead, vision, and dental screenings. They will be looking at the processes to reduce burdens on schools, but still keep Iowa students healthy. It is proven that healthy students are better able to learn in their educational settings.

    Currently, Iowa’s health checks are mainly administered through the Department of Public Health, but also involve the Department of Education, both public and private school systems, and health care providers (including school nurses, dentists, optometrists, and some non-profit organizations). Having all these groups provide concise data about multiple screenings through several data entry points has led to some relatively minor coordination problems.

    There are also different reporting requirements effecting students that parents should be aware of, and the workgroup will be addressing if more consistent requirements are needed. For example, except for personal or medical exemption, immunizations are required for students. This includes home school students that are dual enrolled in a public school. Students can be excluded from school without proper immunizations.

    The work group was created after the passage of the Education Omnibus bill last session, SF 475. They will make a final report to the Iowa General Assembly in December.