A group that represents 16 of Iowa’s largest chambers of commerce is urging state lawmakers to clarify when state cash reserves can be used. Iowa Chamber Alliance executive director Dustin Miller said when large-scale disasters occur, like the derecho, the state’s economic emergency fund could be used to help businesses recover.
“We believe Iowa can be a leader for the next crisis,” Miller said.
The state’s surplus at the end of the last fiscal year in June was at least $300 million, with another $700 million in reserve. Miller said having the state budget in “a stable place” is good for the business climate, but the Chamber Alliance suggests that when state cash reserves are full, those resources could be deployed to help businesses recover from future disasters.
“The budget needs to be in a certain place, with ‘Rainy Day’ funds full, but … being able to deploy those resources immediately and be a selling point for the state to prepare for the next disaster,” Miller said.
The Iowa Chamber Alliance today released the priorities it would like the state legislature to pursue in 2021. Extended broadband is at the top of the list, while taking more steps to ensure there is a “talent pool” for companies.
“Iowa, since 1900, has grown less than 1% per year,” Miller said. “Addressing population growth is a very difficult undertaking, but it is certainly something that we believe is necessary to ensure the long-term economic sustainability of existing businesses and if we are to attract business.”
Miller acknowledged that it would take a “complicated” approach to expanding the state’s workforce, including what he called “place-making” that emphasizes quality of life in communities in Iowa, as well as efforts to expand child care options, improve job training and apprenticeship programs. and attracting “new Americans” to the state.