Two weeks ago the Senate voted to set the fiscal year 2014 allowable growth rate at 4 percent. Senate Republicans spoke out about the imprudence of setting the rate before discussing education reform. The money we give schools is useless without the proper tools. We need to focus on getting to the root of the problems before we decide to increase funding. I feel that we need to put more control in the hands of parents and local school boards and allow them to decide how those funds are allocated.
Allowable growth has come before us again. This time the discussion was about setting the rate for fiscal year 2015. Deciding this rate well in advance is one more step in the annual education funding process, but deciding it prior to putting a reform package in place is irresponsible. Jesus said, “Which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?” We can provide a better system for our teachers and students but we must make that our priority, not something tacked on after the budgets are set. The passage of Allowable Growth for FY 2015 will continue to provide for the status quo rather than contribute to raising student achievement levels. Our goal should be to better prepare students for the global work environment. Ultimately, better prepared students mean prepared workers, more informed small business owners and a more competitive state.
We are also talking about property tax reform again. The Governor’s plan reduces property taxes for all classes of property. I believe it is vital for the state of Iowa to reduce property taxes, especially on commercial property and residential property. I will support a reduction in property taxes.
This week marked the deadline for legislators to file bills. This means that any bill request must be submitted to be drafted by the end of the week. The first funnel week, where bills must be passed out of committee to stay alive, is fast-approaching as well. The session will heat up as more bills come up for debate in the coming weeks.
I heard from many people from Senate District 4 this past week as they called, emailed or visited the Capitol. I also had four community forums last weekend. I have a forum set for Estherville on March 1, three in Hancock County on March 22, and possibly a second forum in Algona on March 23. More details will be in next week’s newsletter. I look forward to hearing from as many of you as I can. You may reach me by emailing email@example.com or calling/texting me at 641-430-0424.