Democrats not happy with marketing contract for Future Ready program

Bill Dotzler

DES MOINES — Republican legislators are setting aside $2.25 million to finance new internships and apprenticeships associated with the “Future Ready Iowa” program.

Governor Kim Reynolds launched the initiative in 2016 when she was lieutenant governor, to encourage enrollment in science, technology, engineering and math or “STEM” courses.

Democrats complain the Reynolds Administration plans to spend $425,000 to advertise the program. “We don’t need to do this. You know it isn’t right. This stinks,” Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said early Thursday morning during Senate debate.

Dotzler argued the $425,000 would be better spent helping students pay for college or technical training. And Dotzler objected to the already-signed contract that calls for airing ads touting the governor’s signature “Future Ready” program in September, October and November — during the height of campaign season.

“It smells like there’s something in the governor’s wood pile,” Dotzler said, “and it smells like inappropriate use of public dollars for political purposes.”

Brenna Smith, a spokeswoman for Governor Reynolds, issued a written statement.

“Future Ready Iowa remains a top priority of the governor, and we will continue working with the Legislature to make sure Iowans know about the opportunity to apply for last-dollar scholarships and grants in fields that lead to high-demand jobs,” Smith said.

Smith indicated Reynolds plans to ask legislators to provide the money for the “last dollar scholarships” next year.

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