Sodders: Skilled workforce training a priority

Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, said he will continue to see what can be done to boost the skilled workforce training in the state to match the workforce to the jobs available.

Sodders said among his priorities for the 2014 legislative session is looking at additional funding that was put in place last year for skilled workforce training and see if it needs to be increased.

“One of our goals is to get people up-skilled to get the jobs,” Sodders said.

The legislative session opens Jan. 13 in Des Moines.

Sodders will also continue his push for expansion of broadband Internet in the state. He said many rural areas are under-served as far as high speed Internet access. He said it’s important to expand broadband for better educational opportunities for students and for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the state.

One of his newer priorities has to do with the closing of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

He said the Legislature funded and approved the home and is upset that Gov. Terry Branstad was able to call for its closure. Sodders this week joined with other lawmakers and ASFCME to file a lawsuit aimed at keeping IJH open.

Sodders also said the state needs to continue to see how they can improve mental health services in the state. With a budget surplus of nearly $1 billion, Sodders said property tax relief for Iowans could be in order, but they have to be careful.

Sodders said with lower tax revenue expected due to lower grain prices they need to be mindful if total state revenues dip.

“I think we’ve got to be frugal,” Sodders said.