A new ten million dollar job-creation initiative announced by Democrats in the Iowa Senate has met with quick criticism from Republicans. Democrats say one program called “PACE”, would link community colleges with low-skilled and dislocated workers.
The other program called “GAP,” helps with tuition. Senator Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg is a long-time champion of community colleges. “We need to zero in to this group of people in this state who need to have their skills upgraded to employable jobs,” Kibbie says.
Republican Governor Terry Branstad recommends flat funding for community colleges –but Kibbie says the state can afford a 20-million-dollar hike in basic state aid. Democrats would link the job training to industry needs. The General Assistance Program or GAP would expand tuition assistance at community colleges.
The program helped single mom Donnie Stanley got a nursing certificate at Kirkwood Community College. “GAP helped me get my first certificate, get my first good jobs, and helped me take the first step up the ladder,” Stanley says, “it has made a big difference for my family.”
Senate Democrats argue the plan is needed as Iowa ranks 40th in its labor supply. But Senate Republican leader Paul McKinely of Chariton says the state instead needs fewer impediments for businesses to create jobs. And the chair of the economic growth committee in the House, Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, says Iowa should be eliminating programs, not creating new ones.
Both parties vow to put 100,ooo Iowans back to work.