Reynolds offers $150m for Broadband, sends kids back to school
Governor Kim Reynolds used Tuesday’s “Condition of the State” address to press for a law requiring schools to offer 100% in-person instruction.“I’m asking the legislature to immediately send a bill to my desk that gives parents the choice to send their children back to school full-time,” Reynolds said. “We can’t wait any longer and our kids can’t wait any longer.”Reynolds criticized schools — mainly in Iowa’s urban areas — that failed to reopen all day, Monday through Fri-day, this fall. She’s asking legislators to no longer allow urban schools to deny “open enrollment” transfers to neighboring districts and the governor is calling for “education savings accounts” that would give parents state money to cover private school tuition.“If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about education, it is that our parents need choice and it’s not just in person versus virtual,” Reynolds said. “Sometimes, it’s about which school to attend altogether.”Reynolds spoke for more than 41 minutes Tuesday night and offered a long list of priorities, including making child care and housing more affordable — and more available. Reynolds also called for spending $150 million in each of the next three years to boost broadband.“As we’ve seen during the pandemic, high speed internet is as vital to our communities as running water and electricity,” Reynolds said.
“If they don’t have it, they can’t grow.” Iowa has the second-slowest broadband speed in the country, according to the governor, and she said it’s “rarely” even available in a third of the state.“Let’s plant a stake in the ground and declare that every part of Iowa will have affordable, high-speed broad-band by 2025 and we’ll get there by committing $450 million over that time period, which will leverage millions more in private investment,” Reynolds said, “giving Iowa the biggest buildout of high-speed internet in the country.” Reynolds used a portion of her speech to introduce Davenport police officers who were ambushed last summer and the officers were applauded by lawmakers. Reynolds then called for legislation to both increase penalties for rioting or attacking police and to ban racial profiling.
“No actions should ever be taken based on the color of someone’s skin,” Reynolds said.Reynolds, who asked for a moment of silence during her speech to honor those who’ve died during the pandemic, later urged Iowans not to return to “normal” once it’s over, but to “be better, think bigger and be bolder.”There were fewer people present in the House of Representatives for the speech, as most Democratic law-makers chose to watch the speech elsewhere in the Capitol or at home rather than crowd onto the House floor