|The Iowa Legislature convened this week on a new journey that will take us into a new session, a new year and a new decade. Where this journey takes us, what we do, and where we will end up, is entirely up to those elected to lead this state forward.
As the leaders of Iowa, it’s important for us to ask ourselves: What do we want the journey look like? What do we want the future of our state to look like?
Do we tell ourselves that all is well, and that no changes are needed? Or do we challenge ourselves to do better for the citizens of Iowa? The answer is obvious. We have an obligation to make our state a better place to live and work.
Democrats have been listening and working over the interim to develop a plan to improve the lives of everyday Iowans. We have a vision of what the future should be for the people of Iowa and we want to help build that better future. It all starts with keeping this chamber focused on the people of Iowa, not the special interests and those at the top.
Since a good job is the key to success for hard-working Iowans, our plan will make sure all Iowans have access to a good job with high wages. We will also introduce legislation to help families with the high cost of child care and create more affordable housing.
Democrats understand that to build a better future and grow our workforce, we must educate the children and students of today to work and lead tomorrow. That is why we will introduce legislation to put education first again and build on our once proud history of leading the nation in education. We will also work to expand preschool and invest in job training and quality professional training programs.
Democrats know that our healthcare system is more unaffordable and less accessible than ever before for too many Iowans. We can no longer ignore this issue. That is why we will introduce legislation this session to make sure health care is accessible and affordable for all Iowans across all parts of the state, urban and rural.
While the task at hand is enormous, we know there are still too many Iowans struggling to get by today.
Students are trying to focus on schoolwork with empty stomachs.
Families are struggling to pay medical bills.
Farmers wonder if their crops will be worth the input costs.
Workers are taking second jobs to pay their mortgages.
This session, our vision and focus must be on Iowans like these. We can and should work together to improve their lives. If we can put egos aside, I know that we are up for the task at hand this session.
One final note on session this year that puts it all in perspective.
Over the summer, I traveled to South Korea with the Army to participate in a readiness exercise. Soldiers and leaders from across the globe worked together, and I was fortunate to get to know one particular Korean officer. Despite our different pasts and some language barriers, we shared common interests and became friends quickly.
As is common in the military, our team had a motto that we ended each meeting with. It was this: “We go forward together.” This simple phrase speaks volumes about the situation in Korea between our allies. It affirmed our commitment to each other as brothers and sisters in arms.
The same is true of us. Those of us elected to the Iowa Legislature are united in a common purpose. We have different pasts, and differences in opinions. But it is our shared goals and values, combined with our diversity, which makes us a strong institution. We must work and engage with each other to make a path forward.
Despite our differences, we are all Iowans, and we must all go forward together.