The Senate Democratic Plan to Fix the Kim Reynolds Workforce Crisis

Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls: (1/6/22)

As we prepare for the opening of the 2022 legislative session, it’s time for all elected officials returning to the Iowa Statehouse to focus on the state’s number one problem: the Kim Reynolds Workforce Crisis.

Small businesses are having trouble staying open, maintaining hours, and struggling to hire new employees. Schools are having larger class sizes – or canceling classes altogether – because of teacher shortages and the inability to operate buses. Hospitals are desperate for more staff. All of these problems are a direct consequence of the Kim Reynolds workforce crisis.

As even Republicans acknowledge, employers in literally every industry are telling us they need help finding more workers. We all see “Help Wanted” signs across Iowa. Help is wanted in our nursing homes and hospitals. Help is wanted on every construction site in all 99 counties. Help is wanted in our schools. We need help ending the Kim Reynolds Workforce Crisis, which Governor Reynolds herself admitted earlier this week.

Unfortunately, the Republican response to the Reynolds Workforce Crisis is to try and distract Iowans by focusing their rhetoric on banning books, putting teachers and librarians behind bars, lying about the 2021 election and taking away Iowans’ freedoms, liberties, and civil rights. But not only does this distract from the Reynolds Workforce Crisis, it only makes the crisis even worse.

Over the last five years of Republican control, these culture war tactics have made it even more difficult to keep current workers in Iowa or to recruit and attract new workers to Iowa. That’s why there are fewer Iowans in the workforce today than there were a decade ago, while at the same time there are ten million more Americans in the workforce nationwide.

Republicans can’t solve the Reynolds Workforce Crisis because they created this crisis. We need more Iowans, younger Iowans, and better-paid Iowans. Instead, Republicans want to give millionaires and billionaires just another tax cut. That won’t solve the Reynolds Workforce Crisis – it will make it worse. The Republican plan would result in defunding public education, public safety, and public health.

Instead, during the 2022 session, Senate Democrats will be focused on putting more money into the pockets of hardworking Iowans and rebuilding Iowa’s reputation as a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

We can get back on track by:

Ending the divisive culture war that pits Iowans against Iowans.

Expanding apprenticeships, career training and technical education.

Fully funding our schools so that students are prepared to succeed.

Making child care affordable throughout Iowa, and guaranteeing access to free, universal Pre-K programs. 

Investing in more affordable housing and helping more Iowans become homeowners.

Legalizing cannabis and regulating cannabis like alcohol.

Continuing to expand high-speed Internet service to every school, business and family.

And that’s just the start.  We’ll have more details during the session.

Finally, I join my colleagues in reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol occurred with the support of former President Trump and planning by Republican members of Congress.

Former President Trump was so desperate to hold on to power, he incited a violent mob in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

One year later, all patriotic Americans should reaffirm our shared commitment to our democratic republic and continue to repudiate the anti-democratic lies used to undermine faith in American elections.

As President Biden said last year on the day of the attack:  “Democracy beats deep in the heart of America.”

We will endure, and as said by America’s first Republican president: “This government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”