As we celebrate the end of summer this Labor Day, it's a good time to remember all that Iowa's working families do to make our state a great place.

While Iowa has fared the national recession better than most states, many Iowans are still struggling to recover. Nearly one in five Iowa working families don't make enough to pay for basic expenses, according to an Iowa Policy Project report on the cost of living.

If we're going to build a prosperous future for our state, we must ensure that all working families can afford to live and thrive in Iowa. Here are three initiatives I'll continue working on so that all Iowans get access to good jobs that pay the bills:

1. Enhancing education and training opportunities that prepare Iowans for skilled jobs. This year, for example, we invested in worker training in the skills local employers need most. We must do more because employers say this is the number one thing we can do to boost Iowa's economy.

2. Cutting commercial property taxes so that local employers can free up more of their hard-earned money to expand and create jobs. I will continue to work for a property tax cut that benefits every Iowa business, helps our small businesses the most, doesn't hurt local schools and services, and doesn't increase residential property taxes.

3. Ensuring high-quality workforce services for job seekers and businesses throughout the state. This includes helping out-of-work Iowans with job placement and interviewing skills, and matching them to local employers looking to hire.

While there's more we can do to continue our state's recovery from the national recession, here are some great things we accomplished this year to give working families a boost in today's economy:

• Ensuring banks and others foreclosing on homes inform homeowners that they can receive mortgage mediation assistance from the Attorney General's office. This effort has helped thousands of Iowans keep their homes.

• Continuing a break at the pump for those who fill up with ethanol-blended fuel by extending the tax break for another year.

• Helping Iowans hit hardest by the recession with support for health care providers who work with low-income Iowans and programs that help families achieve self-sufficiency.

• Protecting homeowners and reputable businesses by ensuring subcontractors get paid for their work and Iowans are not charged double if a general contractor fails to pay a subcontractor.

• Cracking down on "storm chasers." These scammers follow natural disasters from state to state and take advantage of victims through high-pressure tactics, bogus endorsements and false promises to repair or replace exterior damage on homes.

• Helping businesses create jobs through targeted incentives and supporting efforts by Iowa's state universities to work with local businesses.

• Keeping local businesses in the community through Employee Stock Ownership Plans that allow employers to easily sell their business to employees and earn a capital gains tax deduction.

Additional information

This is a legislative update from Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, representing Allamakee, Chickasaw, Howard & Winneshiek counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to .

To contact Senator Wilhelm during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise she can be reached at home at 563-547-4156. E-mail her at

Senator Wilhelm is chair of the Local Government Committee and vice-chair of the Human Resources Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Education, and Economic Growth committees, as well as the Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget.