SIOUX CITY -- Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday praised Woodbury County officials, as their efforts resulted in the first Iowa county to achieve certification in national initiative designed to match skilled workers with jobs in demand.
Communities who demonstrate evidence of having a skilled workforce can get the ACT Work Ready Communities certification. Reynolds said that's an important honor for Woodbury County, and hopes other Iowa counties get on board as well.
"It just says that this county is collaborating and coordinating and you are doing everything that you can to help not only workers get the skills that they need, but really the partnership with the community and business and industry to hire these individuals," Reynolds told the Journal's editorial board.
The ACT framework allows each participating community to measure and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized skills measurement, through the National Career Readiness Certificate. Reynolds said it is pleasing that such a way to quantify the workforce readiness exists, as she continues to push that as a distinct need in Iowa.
She noted her administrative 2019-20 fiscal year budget proposal includes $20 million in funding to implement Future Ready Iowa measures.
One year ago in Sioux City, the Republican governor was touting creation of a program she said will improve job prospects of 127,000 Iowans to bolster their educational achievement and workplace skills. Reynolds said Future Ready Iowa was her top priority in the Legislature for 2018.
That program was indeed created, and Reynolds on Friday said now is the time to implement it.
Iowa’s growing economy has reduced unemployment to historical lows -- December’s rate was the third straight at 2.4 percent — but many businesses in Sioux City and other parts of the state are struggling in finding workers with the necessary skills for current and future job openings, she said.
During her 45-minute meeting with The Journal's editorial board, Reynolds also called for an end to the month long partial shutdown of the federal government, calling it "ridiculous" that President Donald Trump and lawmakers can't get on the same page to pass a budget.
"Enough is enough. They need to come to the table and get something done," Reynolds told the editorial board.
A few hours after the meeting in the Journal offices, President Trump and congressional leaders announced a deal had been reached to re-open the government through Feb. 15, without any funding for the wall the GOP president wants to build on the U.S. border with Mexico.
The shutdown began Dec. 22, when Congress refused Trump's request for $5 billion for the barrier. Subsequent negotiations didn't result in an accord, and competing proposals both failed in the Senate Thursday.
Reynolds said all lawmakers -- Trump, majority Democrats in the House and Republicans who control the Senate -- must realize they won't all get what they want and pursue a compromise.
The governor said, "I believe that you need to secure the border," in order to reduce the flow of drugs and human trafficking. Reynolds added that she also wants a long-term fix for the "outdated" immigration system, since there is a benefit to Iowa to have immigrants and migrants working in jobs statewide.
"They definitely play a role in us meeting the need," Reynolds said.
She also mentioned DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that suspends deportation proceedings for some young adults who were brought across the border as children, who are often called Dreamers.
"We need to provide some kind of certainty to the Dreamers that are here, you know, so they can get on with their lives too. But all of that, at some point, has been put on the table from both parties. So the fact that they can't sit down and come to some agreement is ridiculous, just ridiculous," Reynolds said.
About 380,000 workers were furloughed without pay in departments such as the National Park Service, Transportation Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development, while another 420,000 continued to work without pay in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Homeland Security.