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Focusing on the middle class and job training

It has been observed that a good number of school children think the first day of the year is sometime in late August when they return to school. I have learned that for public officials, it begins in November following the elections.

Now knowing who is elected to represent the people, many individuals and groups contact the newly elected to both express their desires and to hear what the elected official plans on doing.

It is my great honor to once again lead the Democrats in the Iowa House. In that role, I’ll be advancing what the members of my caucus feel with help Iowans as we face the economic, social, and geopolitical climates we live in.

There are a number of concerns facing us: Wages continue to be stagnate with most Iowans having not experiencing increases in their incomes as we come out of the Great Recession. In addition to experiencing no or limited growth in income, most Iowans have also experienced more “tugs” on their incomes: Increasing costs of education, increasing grocery bills and the occurrence of more debt in paying college tuitions for their children.

This is why the efforts of the 2015 legislative session need to focus on stabilization and restoration of the middle class.

First and foremost should be a job training bill that focuses on jobs which require more training than a high school degree, but less than a four-year college degree. This is the area identified as potential for growth in our state, but we’re short on workers with this type of training. It is believed a number of businesses would locate here if these trained workers were available. At the same time, wages and benefits for workers are improving in this sector as the demand for skilled workers increases.

Heath care workers are some of the most in demand workers. This is especially true in our area with the employment opportunities in long-term care at the Iowa Veterans Home, Grandview Heights, Villa del Sol, the Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center’s Skilled Nursing Unit, and at Southridge Nursing and Rehabilitation. Many workers are needed at the excellent assisted living programs and home health programs as well.

Fortunately, Iowa is well positioned to fill this shortage of skilled workers. We’ve got 15 community colleges who are already working with local businesses, high schools, and community leaders to train the next generation of skilled workers.

Here in Marshalltown, Iowa Valley Community College has already developed critical training and partnerships with local businesses and local high schools that contribute effectively to our self-reliance as a community and as a state.

When the 2015 legislative session starts in January, I’m going to work to make sure the Legislature stays focused on the middle class and job training opportunities for Iowans.

Your thoughts and concerns are always appreciated.

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State Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown can be contacted at 816 Roberts Terrace, Marshalltown; via phone at 641-750-9278 or by email:mark.smith@legis.iowa.gov