We must spur growth in every Iowa community

Ragan Report: Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.8 percent, but that doesn't mean everybody has the job they want or the income they need to make ends meet. We must ensure every Iowa community has the tools to thrive-especially our small towns and rural areas.

In a recent Iowa Poll, Iowans shared what they see as the biggest issues facing our state. The majority of Iowans surveyed think Iowa has major problems with:

o Mental-health services (73 percent)

o Child welfare (58 percent)

o Student debt (60 percent)

o University tuition (55 percent)

o The state budget (51 percent)

Unfortunately, cuts that passed the Iowa Senate on Feb. 8 could hurt those priority areas even more. SF 2117 immediately slashes funding for critical services provided by the Department of Human Services, and significantly cuts our investment in community colleges and state universities. That will lead to more out-of-pocket expenses and fewer opportunities for working families.

I am eager to get to work on proposals that Put Iowans First. It's time to get back to the basics-to help improve Iowans' everyday lives and provide more opportunities. That means focusing on our shared values, including better-paying jobs, great education and affordable health care.

Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) serves Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Senate District 27. She can be reached at 515-281-3371 or 641-424-0874. Email her at amanda.ragan@legis.iowa.gov.