Gov. Kim Reynolds sets goals for 2021
Says Hawkeye State is well-prepared to build a vibrant future
Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State message Wednesday. She told lawmakers that the Hawkeye State is ready and able to build a vibrant future for all Iowans.
The economic disruption and toll in lives brought about by the pandemic were a central concern in 2020 and remain in the picture as 2021 unfolds. Major weather events, including the drought and the derecho, also made 2020 a year most of us are glad to see in the rear-view mirror.
The pandemic and other woes hurt Iowa’s economy. Unemployment reached 11 percent in April 2020. Reynolds had good news, however. She said our state is rebounding and Iowans should be optimistic about the days ahead.
“We took a hit like everyone else, but we didn’t falter long,” the governor said. “Because of conservative budgeting practices, Iowa’s diverse economy, the decision to keep over 80 percent of our businesses open and the tenacity of our people, Iowa isn’t facing a massive budget shortfall like many states.”
Reynolds pointed out that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6 percent, which is only slightly higher than it was before the virus disrupted life. The Iowa economy grew an amazing 36 percent in the third quarter of 2020.
“Iowa’s coming back, and we’re coming back strong,” Reynolds said, noting that action is still needed to make Iowa’s economy stronger and improve the quality of life for our state’s residents.
The pandemic underlined the importance of broadband internet connectivity. It illustrated how much can now be accomplished online. Reynolds said reaching universal high-speed internet access is a crucial.
“I’m done taking small steps and hoping for big change,” she said. “This is the time for bold action and leadership. Let’s plant a stake in the ground and declare that every part of Iowa will have affordable, high-speed broadband by 2025.”
Reynolds is asking the Legislature to commit $450 million to help Iowa accomplish that goal.
The pandemic also focused attention on the shortage of adequate daycare facilities in Iowa. That issue won’t disappear once the virus is no longer a major threat.
“Iowa has more households with all parents working than any other state,” Reynolds said. “Let’s remove the obstacles to high-quality, affordable child care so that Iowa families can nurture their kids while parents maintain the maximum freedom to enter and remain in the workforce.”
If Iowa is to prosper, it must have adequate affordable housing for its workforce. Helping local private and public-private collaborations address this issue deserves state support, the governor said. She also said keeping the state’s education system vibrant and its mental health system on the upswing are key priorities for 2021 and beyond.
The governor praised the way Iowans responded to the troubles they were forced to confront during the last year.
“This year has shown us what we can accomplish, and how fast we can do it,” Reynolds said. “Hold onto that spirit. To that ingenuity and collaboration. To the feeling that we’re working for the greater good, and not ourselves.”
The Messenger commends Reynolds for her leadership during a challenging time. Her recommendations to the Legislature are sound and deserve prompt attention. Our governor continues to demonstrate that the faith Iowans have placed in her is well-founded. We are fortunate to have her at the helm of our ship of state.