Governor Tom Vilsack this morning urged Iowans to “challenge the status quo” in order to move the state forward. He says the state’s future promise does not depend on the old way built on low commodity prices and low-tech jobs. He says the future must be built on a new economy.Vilsack delivered his second “Condition of the State” message to Iowa lawmakers today, and spent a great deal of time talking about plans for enhancing teacher pay.Vilsack asked lawmakers to commit money immediately to the teacher pay issue. He calls for 40-million dollars of new spending as a “first year payment to implement” his plan.Vilsack called for creation of a state fund, which would help communities understand and plan for high-speed Internet connections.Vilsack repeated his call for a one-dollar increase in the minimum wage.He says more than 100-thousand Iowans who now earn the minimum wage will not be helped by the so-called new economy. Vilsack says the purchasing power of the current minimum wage has eroded.Vilsack closed by mentioning the Shelby Duis child abuse case, and reviewing some of his proposals for revamping the way state social workers respond when allegations of abuse surface. He asked, “How many must die before we realize the necessity of providing more resources for protection services and training?, How many must die before we understand the cycle between substance abuse and mental illness and violence?”Vilsack says Iowa’s at a crossroads and has the opportunity to excel and lead in several industries, like the life sciences and ag research.
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