Two Republicans and two Democrats in the Iowa Legislature are proposing a tax break for Iowa businesses that help their employees pay off college debts. Representative Tami Wiencek, a Republican from Waterloo, says it may be a way to keep young people here after they graduate.
"We want them and also need them to stay in the state of Iowa. Let’s get employers more involved in the process," Wiencek says. Wiencek and three other legislators have introduced legislation which would give businesses a tax credit if the business helps its workers pay off student loans. "To our knowledge, there’s no other program like this in the country," Wiencek says.
Wiencek argues a college graduate facing staggering debt may be more likely to take a job with an Iowa business if that business helps pay off their student loans. "The state of Iowa has the second-worst record in the country of retaining its recently-educated younger citizens," Wiencek says.
According to Wiencek, 40 percent of University of Iowa and Iowa State University graduates leave the state after graduation, while just about one-third of University of Northern Iowa grads leave the state. Representative Jeff Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, and two Democrats — Representative Dawn Pettengill of Mount Auburn and Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City are the bill’s other co-sponsors.