DES MOINES — The Iowa Legislature has approved up to $8 MILLION for the new Thrive Iowa program Governor Kim Reynolds proposed, to link people in need with faith-based and private sector groups that can help. It’s modeled after a similar program in Florida.

In January, Reynolds said community support is just as important as government programs in helping Iowans get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.  “The good news is that many of these resources already exist across our state, from faith communities, to non-profits, and so many other wonderful organizations. They are doing life-changing work every single day,” Reynolds said. “Government’s role is not to replace these grassroots efforts, but to amplify and facilitate them.”

Republican Senator Mark Costello of Imogene says he’s not sure if the Iowa Department of Human Services will hire a company to run the Thrive Iowa program, although he says some of the $8 MILLION is for staff and developing an online system for requests and referrals. “It’s really the human element and using the navigators to assist Iowans that are in need. And it’s a closed loop referral system under HHS,” Costello says. “It’ll be statewide and connect the community provider to nonprofits.”

Senator Sarah Trone Garriott, a Democrat from Waukee, says the United Way already operates the 2-1-1 referral service for $2 MILLION. “It doesn’t make sense to me to start a brand new program when the one we have right now, right here is already doing this work, especially when it’s going to cost up to $8 million for them to do the same thing,” Trone Garriott said. “That sounds like a really bad deal for Iowans.”

Trone Garriott says the extra $8 MILLION would have been better used feeding needy Iowa children this summer.