A bill that would set aside $25 million in state money for “quality of life” projects and promotions is ready for Senate debate. Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said the bill addresses the need to get more young adults to live and work in Iowa.
“What this bill is about is creating a quality of place,” Dotzler said, “because we know in social behavior, people always want to live in cool, hip and happening neighborhoods.”
The $25 million could be used for “enhancing recreational and cultural opportunities” — things like public parks, museum and river improvements. But Dotzler said the money also could be used to promote sporting events like the recent NCAA tournament games in Des Moines or the Solheim Cup, a competition between women golfers from the U.S. and Europe that will be held in Des Moines next year.
“Things that bring in large national audiences to help show that Iowa isn’t the backwards state people perceive us to be,” Dotzler said. “You know, we’ve really got something going on here and people ought to stay in Iowa and move to Iowa ’cause we’re really a great state to live in.”
According to Dotzler, boosting Iowa’s population is crucial because of some “red flags” raised by the Iowa Business Council.
“Our job creation is exceeding our population growth and they’re saying that we need to have or fill within the next nine years over 610,000 openings,” Dotzler said. “What Iowa really needs is more Iowans.”
The bill has cleared both the Senate Economic Growth Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, making it eligible for debate in the 50-member Iowa Senate.
A similar idea was floated last year, but Dotzler has changed the funding source has changed. He proposes that if the state has at least $100 million in unspent money at the end of the budgeting year, $25 million of that would go to this program. Dotzler said in eight of the last 10 years the state’s budget situation would have allowed the program to be financed.