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Feb
12
Fri
11:30 am Ames Chamber Forum @ First National Bank
Ames Chamber Forum @ First National Bank
Feb 12 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
 

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BWK Statehouse News #3

Corporate tax cuts vs. middle class Iowans
Thursday, we passed a tax cut (coupling with Federal taxes) that will significantly deplete state revenues. Over 80% of that tax cut will go to corporations. Once again, predominantly, it does not benefit middle class Iowans and  takes away from important priorities such as education, health care and environmental protection.
Let’s make public schools our top priority again
House Republicans took action on a public school funding plan approved by the Iowa Senate last year.  They ignored warnings from school leaders and cut the Senate proposal from 4% to 2% supplemental aid (SSA) to schools. It’s a paltry increase for the 480,000 kids in our public schools; it is not enough for schools to keep up with rising costs.
The next step is a conference committee to work out the differences between the bills so it can be sent to the Governor.
The following is from a constituent email, which indicates how schools are already underfunded:
“My son said he loved the first week of school because many of the other kids were too shy to raise their hands so he was called on a lot. Now when the teacher asks a question, 26 hands shoot up and it makes him sad because he doesn’t get called on very much. Everything takes longer with a larger class, lining up, putting on winter gear to go outside, cleaning up after a project, bathroom breaks, etc. which takes away from learning.  My son as well as other children in the class feel rushed and often they don’t complete the assignments in the time allotted so that the quality/accuracy suffer. The teacher is excellent and is a model teacher training others. But with so many kids in the class, each child does not receive daily one-on-one interaction from the teacher.”
Ames school superintendent says that 2% SSA will result in up to $900,000 in cuts.

Environmental Protection
In 2010, over 60% of Iowans approved the IWill Constitutional amendment which would fund recreational, conservation and water quality programs. However, you have to remember that a key to the IWill was that Iowa legislature would have to raise the sales tax in order for the funding to begin.  Since 2010, the Iowa legislature has made no movement to raise the sales tax to fund these critical programs.
The perfect solution to this issue, would be for the legislature to consistently fund these programs from the general fund. Two years ago, the legislature did a better job of funding environmental programs (REAP and the voluntary pollution reduction program), but the governor vetoed much of that funding.
I am not a fan of the regressive sales tax which hits low income Iowans harder than it hits high income Iowans. However, after the governor’s vetoes, I see a need for protected funding.  I am frustrated by the state inaction of environmental protection.
My proposal would be for the legislature to create a ⅜ cent local option sales tax which would be approved county by county to be put on the ballot for voters to approve. I recognize that water quality is not a county issue but I also recognize that it is bigger than a state issue. We need to start someplace.

Quote of the week: “The Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the United States Department of Education has concluded that class size reduction is one of only four, evidence-based reforms that have been proven to increase student achievement through rigorous, randomized experiments — the “gold standard” of research.”  – See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/what-we-believe-2/why-class-size-matters/#sthash.tM4dejwq.dpuf