Ames Chamber of Commerce

State Legislature Candidate Questionnaire: Ross Wilburn

Posted on 09/28/2020 at 01:42 PM by Guest Writer Guest Writer

The Ames Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Program educates and engages members on key federal, state, and local political issues and initiatives. In all advocacy efforts, the Ames Chamber of Commerce remains nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates or support political action committees. Maintaining strong relationships with all federal, state, and local elected officials is a key tenet of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, and a service we are proud to provide to our entire membership.

Read below to learn more about a candidate running for Iowa Legislature

What do you believe are the two most pressing challenges/opportunities facing Iowa’s ability to attract talent and workforce? What are your plans to address them?

Our immigration issue emphasizes the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform. International students, faculty, staff, and community member’s livelihoods are negatively impacted. We need leadership to challenge Congress and the President to enact it. Secondly, we need to strengthen post-secondary education opportunities. I support a program to pay for community college education, after grants or scholarships, for any adult who commits to using their degree within the state for at least two years. A similar “Grow Iowa” education program could serve as a source of new labor in Iowa.

How will you help protect and expand Iowa’s reputation as a leading state in which to do business?

Strengthen rural and urban economies. Create green jobs and expand use of renewable energy. COVID-19 highlighted the structural gap we have with inadequate broadband services infrastructure for work, our educational system, and telemedicine. Promote Iowa products across the country and around the world, including those that ensure a strong future for family farms, enhancement of sustainable organic farming and continued growth of local food systems.

How do you plan to balance essential government services with the need to cut significant costs from government spending due to the COVID-19 impacts? What will be your priorities in this effort?

The state has been operating on emergency declarations due to COVID-19. We need to have legislative oversight on how CARES act funding has been utilized, as well policy decisions by the Governor. This isn’t a partisan action; it is appropriate oversight and the responsible thing to do. On the revenue side, the state is going to have to review and provide more effective oversight of Iowa’s tax credits to guarantee the state is getting a good return on its investment. Critical investments should be in education, mental healthcare, and supporting infrastructure like broadband access.

What legislation would you introduce or support to help stimulate the economy?

Iowa has made tremendous strides in wind energy; we should put a similar effort into growing our solar industry and supply chain. Continue support of our biofuels industry. As Iowa faces a difficult period for agriculture, we must give farmers the ability and flexibility to diversify their crops. Industrial Hemp is now legal nationally and Iowa should be a leader in its growth, so policy to help support that and grow the market for hemp products.

What policy changes would you propose or support to prepare for the next pandemic?

Keep the Iowa Department of Public Health as a stand-alone state department and keep it staffed at a level in order to have a robust public health prevention and education response. (There is some concern that Governor Reynolds is trying to consolidate it with the Department of Human Services). Fully develop our broadband capacity for business, schools, and home access and usage. We’ve already seen the challenges to education and commerce, as well as health and mental health care (telemedicine). So, let’s begin the work now to prepare ourselves for the next pandemic or insect borne illness.

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