That includes a bid to end tenure for professors at the three state universities.
“I am so focused on broadband. We have to do something with housing and child care and so those are the priorities that I ran on,” Reynolds said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “The legislature is a separate body. They have issues that come up based on what they hear from their constituents. I try really hard not to weigh in on that if it’s not something that I’m really driving, as part of my program, and kind of let it work through the process.”
Business groups have warned Iowa will become less attractive for major businesses if Iowa becomes the first state to ban tenure or removes civil rights protections for gay and transgender Iowans. Reynolds said prominent businesses, including Apple and Google, are choosing Iowa for financial reasons.
“Our workforce participation rate is always one of the highest in the country. We have a low cost of doing business and, bottom line, math is math,” Reynolds told Radio Iowa. “…I think our narrative overall is really positive, especially when you look at Minnesota’s talking about tax increases. Wisconsin, a year ago, (Governor Tony) Evers put forward a significant tax increase.”
Reynolds is pushing her fellow Republicans in the legislature to agree to spend $450 million in state money over the next three years on broadband expansion. And Reynolds said the grants should go to companies that will extend fiber capable of the highest download and upload speeds.
“We need to build for the future,” Reynolds said. “This is what we need to do to be competitive and to really make sure that rural Iowa doesn’t continue to be left behind.”
A package of child care bills to assist parents and child care providers has cleared the Iowa House. The proposals date back to last year, but had to be shelved when the legislature suspended deliberations last year due to the pandemic. Reynolds said those bills also are a priority this year, plus the state received $90 million in federal pandemic relief through the CARES Act to spend on child care. Reynolds plans to appoint a working group to make recommendations on how and where that money should be spent.
“We’re going to pull people together and then they can do some outreach into the communities and I’ll give them 100 days,” Reynolds says. “I really like that timeline — get in there, get it done, ask the questions, put the recommendations together and then present them, so I’ll be anxious to see what those recommendations are and how we can maybe adjust some of the CARES Act money that we have to help.”
That federal money can be spent on stipends for parents, grants to child care providers and money to make improvements in child care facilities.