It's been a busy session with lots happening at the Capitol and at home. Pocket survived a trip to Florida with her band mates. Adam has decided to go to Upper Iowa University to start his college career. Carrie is busy getting ready for an accreditation review for Headstart/early Headstart. And I'm trying to find time to do some public forums around my Sheriff Office work schedule.
Most of you have heard that I did some due diligence on a run for the 1st Congressional seat being vacated by Bruce Braley. I have decided not to run for the position even though I had many folks wanting me to do so. I want to thank all those who were supportive. I believe that I can best serve Iowans in the Iowa Senate at this time.
One of my top priorities in my Senate work has always been jobs and economic growth. I think it is very clear that our community colleges have an important role to play there.
Our community colleges give thousands of Iowans the opportunity to improve their skills and build a better life for their families. They're also helping to solve one of the biggest problems facing Iowa: the skilled worker shortage.
That's why the Iowa Senate gave bipartisan support this week to investing an additional $25 million to expand skills training at every community college, including Iowa Valley Community College and North Iowa Area Community College. These efforts have already helped more than 100 local students attend Marshalltown Community College.
Senate File 429 increases funding for the Gap Tuition Assistance Program, which provides financial aid for non-credit coursework. At Iowa Valley Community College, for example, just over 41 students are currently benefiting from GAP. To date, these students have received more than $1,000 per student. The funds help pay for training, tuition, books, fees, testing fees, and required tools and personal protective equipment when needed.
The students are studying for the nurse aide (CNA) certification, phlebotomist certification, pharmacy technician certification, career pipe welding and utility technician program. By June 30 of this year, there will be 73 students benefiting from GAP in Iowa Valley Continuing Education projects.
In five years, 62 percent of all Iowa jobs will require education and training beyond high school. Right now, however, one-sixth of Iowa's working-age adults don't even have a high school diploma. If we write off all those folks-nearly 300,000 Iowans-we will shut the door on a stronger Iowa economy.
Senate File 429 is a smart move for Iowans and the Iowa economy. Such Iowa business organizations as the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Master Builders of Iowa and the Iowa Chamber Alliance support this effort. It is now under consideration by the Iowa House.