This week’s newsletter from Peter Cownie provides some insight into some of his goals as a legislator.Â Helping keep young people in Iowa after they graduate from high school and/or college has been a challenge in recent decades.Â Reasons for the large numbers of youth leaving the state range from financial opportunity to entertainment to lifestyle.Â Ultimately, jobs are key, and attracting young people means attracting companies.Â Peter also looks at ways to promote staying in Iowa for college education.
The best question a citizen can ask a person seeking public office is: why are you doing this? Every candidate should have a passion for what he/she is trying to accomplish and remember that passion each time he/she makes a decision. I was asked this question more than any other during the campaign. My answer is simple: I want to see more young people in Iowa. I grew up in Iowa and I want to do something about the young people that have chosen not to stay here and those that might think to leave in the future.
I serve on the Economic Growth Committee and we recently heard a presentation from the Generation Iowa Commission. I asked the presenter what deters young people from staying in Iowa after college. The answer was one word: jobs. I could not agree more. Young people will go where the best jobs are located. The current economic times will only reinforce this reality. In every decision a legislator makes this session, he/she needs to keep in mind the 80,000 unemployed Iowans and how we can help put them back to work. We also need to bear in mind those young people who want jobs in Iowa.
The Iowa Legislature needs to remember the big picture. The big picture is that Iowaâ€™s population is not growing quickly compared to other states. According to estimates from the Census Bureau for 2000-2008, Iowa ranks 42nd in population growth percentage. I have introduced a bill that will help retain and recruit young people to Iowa. This bill would allow college graduates who stay in Iowa to deduct the interest on student loan payments changing the limit from $2,500 to $5,000 annually. Students in Iowa graduate with the highest debt levels ($26,208 on average) in America. This bill would give direct help to college graduates who are just starting a job and could use the relief in their pocketbook. It is in the best interest of the Iowa Legislature to reach out to our young people and ease their burden. This bill will help keep our young people where we want them: Iowa.
This week’s newsletter also appeared in the West Des Moines section of the Des Moines Register, along with pieces from Pat Ward and Chris Hagenow.Â You may note that Pat hits hard on the Popular Vote bill, which we have opposed here as well.
Peter, Pat and Chris, along with Bob Brownell, also hosted a public forum in West Des Moines on February 28, which I attended.Â More on that later.