This has been another busy week at the Capitol. The session is scheduled to last 110 days.
I am hopeful agreements on major issues can be made but whether we will meet our deadline is yet to be seen. The Governor refuses to expand Medicaid and, at the same time, demands we pass his education reform proposal.
Unless he moves toward finding common ground with the legislature, we could be here for quite some time.
After months of delay, Governor Branstad finally released a bill with the details of his alternative plan to expand health care. Now that we’ve got the details, we were able to compare Terry Care with Medicaid expansion.
The analysis of the two plans shows the Governor’s plan costs more and covers fewer Iowans. About 150,000 hard-working adults who don’t have health insurance through their employer would be able to access affordable health care under Medicaid expansion.
The Governor’s alternative plan would provide health care to about 89,000 Iowans.
Governor Branstad’s complaint about Medicaid expansion all along has been uncertainty of federal funding. However, his alternative plan actually requires more federal funds than simply expanding Medicaid.
The analysis shows that in the first full year (Fiscal Year 2015) his plan would cost the federal government $667 million vs. only $577 million under Medicaid expansion. That’s a difference of $90 million more in just the first year to enact his alternative plan.
That’s $90 million federal dollars we can save if we do the right thing and expand Medicaid.
The Governor’s plan is also costly for Iowa taxpayers. It will cost Iowa taxpayers at least $163 million every year, of which $80 million is levied from property tax payers.
Under Medicaid, the state would only have to kick in about $4.7 million. The numbers make it clear expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do, both fiscally and morally.
Progress is slow on education. It’s already too late for many local schools. After over a year delay, the house majority and the Governor have finally agreed to a 4-percent increase in school funding for the next two years.
Right now, schools are preparing budget and sending out layoff notices to educators because of the uncertainty in state funding.
While it’s good news on school funding, the House majority sided with the Governor and made the increase in state aid contingent upon approval of their own education reform plan, without any changes or compromise. The reality is this sort of grandstanding doesn’t work very well.
It injects partisanship at a time when Iowans expect us to work together and compromise in good faith. I’m going to keep working on this issue to make sure it is the best possible bill we can get for our kids.
Clearly, differences exist on school funding and the Governor’s education reform package, yet we passed a bill this week to make sure every child in kindergarten and third grade gets a vision screening before school begins.
While this bill and the bipartisan effort to get it passed went largely unnoticed, it indicates that when political grandstanding is put aside, good things can happen for Iowa’s kids. I’m hopeful the Governor and house majority will realize we must make a concerted effort to put together an education package that is right for kids and forget the political games.
We must always put Iowa’s kids first, especially those who experience hardships and abuse. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. We have an opportunity and responsibility to make a difference.
When you file your state income tax return, please consider the Child Abuse Checkoff. All contributions go to the Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program, which benefits local services that educate and support families.
Under the direction of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, these services served 12,000 families in 83 Iowa counties last year. Iowa taxpayers have generously donated $250,000 over four years to the Child Abuse Prevention Check Off.
With your help, we can do even more to help ensure all Iowa’s children are raised in safe, nurturing environments.
To donate to Child Abuse Prevention, look for line 58d on Iowa Tax Form 1040 or line 16 on Iowa Tax Form 1040A.
An online tax program, such as TurboTax, asks whether to make a contribution after the filer has reviewed the tax form and is ready to submit.
I’m proud to represent Newton, Colfax, Baxter, Mingo, Kellogg, Prairie City, Lambs Grove, Ira, and Valeria. Feel free to contact me anytime at 641-521-9260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit my website at www.electkelley.com. ‘Friend’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.