- Closing the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant
- School start date
- Privatization of Medicaid
- School funding
These are decisions which the Governor has made without legislative input and/or is threatening a veto if the Legislature disagrees. Click on the links above to contact them.
Iowa’s growing economy
Over the last few months, Iowa’s economy has continued to perform well. Our unemployment rate dropped again in January to 4.2%, which is well below the national rate, and 3,100 non-farm jobs were added to the state’s economy. A non-partisan panel of budget experts also met last week and expect Iowa revenues to increase about 6% over the current year. That means the state will collect about $408 million more than previously predicted this year with total revenues expected to be $7.176 billion.
School funding stalemate continues
The school funding crisis will continue on for at least another week after a bi-partisan committee met on Tuesday but Republicans again refused to compromise sticking with underfunding schools at 1.25%.
Parents and students from across Iowa rallied at the State Capitol on Wednesday to encourage us to support a 4% increase in school funding next year. Legislative leaders also received copies of a petition with 6,000 signatures from Iowans supporting the 4% increase for schools.
The school district in Forest City was forced to raise property taxes due to the crisis while Charles City is reducing a math teacher, art instructor, library staff, and curriculum director next year.
If the issue isn’t resolved soon, it’s certain more teachers will get pink slips and students will have fewer opportunities for success. It’s time for Republicans to start listening to the parents, students, and educators.
Other news this week
• In an effort to protect the public, the House approved a bill for transportation network companies like Uber that will require drivers to undergo a background check and have a minimum amount of insurance.
• The House approved a bill that would require schools to start Aug. 23 or after with an exemption for year round schools. I prefer letting school districts decided when to start school. This is clearly an issue which should be decided at the local level.
• The Senate is pushing through a bill already approved by the House that will track the availability of psychiatric beds so it’s easier to place citizens, especially in emergency cases.
• After claiming he doesn’t use email or have a smartphone, Governor Branstad admitted he uses a Blackberry and has a private email account.
• A bill to legalize fireworks cleared a House committee this week, but its fate is uncertain.
Quote of the week: “One of the great unrecognized dramas of childhood has been the struggle throughout history, sometimes spectacularly successful and other times dismally unsuccessful, of the unusual learner to find his best place in life.” − Edward M. Hallowell