Collins: Education, small business top priorities

Matt Kuhns

Strengthening our education system should be Iowa’s first priority, but the importance of small business cannot be overlooked, said Iowa House candidate Gentry Collins at a reception Wednesday evening.

“We must educate our children, but we must also create good jobs for them,” Collins said to about 35 supporters gathered at Reiman Gardens.

Collins, a Republican and recent graduate of Iowa State, was joined by several other Republicans seeking office next month, including Congressional candidate Larry McKibben and Iowa Senate candidate Norm Luiken.

The candidates talked casually with attendees, many of them from the ISU College Republicans, before making brief speeches.

In his remarks, Collins said that when going door-to-door around Iowa’s 62nd House District, he found that the most frequently named concern was education.

Collins said Iowa has traditionally had “world-class education,” and to ensure that this standard continues, schools need to reemphasize basics such as math and phonics and reintroduce character education.

Of higher education, Collins said tuition increases need to be kept at or below inflation; anything greater is “going too far.”

Small business also needs support from Iowa’s legislators, Collins said, naming further tax reductions as the best way to help businesses.

Broader economic concerns are largely beyond the power of state government to address, Collins said, but they can petition Congress to take action such as opening new markets to farmers.

He said grain prices have depressed despite a good yield, and part of the solution is providing growers with access to markets they currently are denied. Collins also said Iowa should remain committed to encouraging ethanol production.

Within government itself, Collins said the issue of campaign finance is “out of hand” and limits are needed, particularly on out-of-state money in state-level races.

Collins, who grew up in Ames, is opposing Democrat Dennis Parmenter in the race to represent Iowa House District 62. The district, which includes all of Ames south of Lincoln Way, has been held by Democrats for 20 years.

“[Republicans] haven’t really had a chance [in District 62] in years,” Collins said.

But recent polls show the race as a dead heat.

“It’s about time,” Collins said.