A frustrating loss of funding for child care and housing


FILE – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a rally, March 9, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. After running unopposed in Iowa’s primary election, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a huge fundraising edge over Democrat Deidre DeJear in a state that has become increasingly friendly to conservative candidates. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall File)

Any list of top state priorities would certainly include expanding access to both affordable child care and housing. Both issues are tied to the state’s stubborn workforce shortage, which is the largest obstacle to economic growth across Iowa.

And yet, we found out this month Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration is refusing tens of millions of dollars in federal child care and housing funding.

According to reporting by Iowa Capital Dispatch’s Clark Kaufman, Iowa will lose $30 million in federal funding that could helped provide child care services to Iowa families. The governor’s office told Kaufman that the state didn’t want to provide a $3 million match to receive the grant. A Democratic state lawmaker insists the state didn’t get its application in order in time to apply.

Regardless of the reason, the decision makes absolutely no sense in a state where nearly a quarter of Iowans live in child care deserts where care is not available. Iowa lost 33 percent of its child care businesses in the last five years and Iowa is 350,000 child care slots short of what’s needed. These are the Reynolds’ administration’s own figures.

In another story, the Des Moines Register’s Lee Rood reported the state will not ask the federal government to reallocate $89 million in unspent funds for rental help and affordable housing in Iowa. So the money likely will go to other states.

“These funds could prevent our homeless numbers from growing, keep thousands of children in stable housing, and provide upwards of $24 million for the development of affordable housing units,” Anne Bacon, who leads a Polk County nonprofit told Rood.

This from an administration spending $100 million in pandemic relief funds on the Destination Iowa program funding tourist attractions, including $6 million for a Field of Dreams TV show that has yet to land a network home. Reynolds also spent $3.7 million in COVID relief on a TV ad campaign promoting the state. It doesn’t mention our shortage of child care and housing.

In 2021, the governor turned down $95 million in federal funding for COVID testing in schools. In 2020, her administration had to repay $21 million of COVID aid it misspent on a computer system.

Why is this happening again and again? It looks like a job for the Legislative Oversight Committee. But we expect, as has been the case in recent years, Republican lawmakers will have no tough questions for the Republican governor. But Iowans deserve answers.

(319) 398-8262; [email protected]

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