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Proposal shortchanges students, Iowa’s future

Published: Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 10:30 a.m. CST

Iowa’s kids and economic future were shortchanged this week. The first bill up for debate this year provided local schools inadequate support.

Throughout the week, I was visited at the Capitol by Jasper County’s school superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, administrators, and, most importantly, students. Their voices all echoed the same sentiment, “Shortchanging our children will shortchange Iowa’s future.” They spoke loudly and clearly, the governor’s inadequate proposal would have adverse effects on Jasper County’s students. It would lead to higher class sizes, an increase in property taxes, and fewer opportunities for Iowa students.

I listened and introduced a common-sense plan to consider inflationary increases in day-to-day expenses of education. Everyone knows you can’t purchase a gallon of milk with the same dollar you used to purchase it with last year, so why would our governor and house majority legislators expect schools to meet their rising fuel, utility, textbook, computer and other costs with non-inflationary adjusted budgets? It makes no sense.

Unfortunately, despite the strong opposition, the house majority party approved the governor’s proposal of 1.25 percent “allowable growth,” and sent it across the rotunda to the Senate. It’s clear the majority party either wasn’t  listening to the Iowans who came to the State Capitol to give testimony, or, worse yet, simply ignored them. Either way, Iowa’s kids and our future were shortchanged.Hopefully, my colleagues in the Senate will support 6 percent allowable growth, as I proposed, and finally put kids first.

I want to make certain everyone understands the school budgeting process. The allowable growth formula sets the amount of state and property tax dollars that fund school districts. The Legislature is required by law to set the rate 30 days after the Governor releases his budget proposal. This gives schools about 18 months advance notice concerning what state funds they will receive. Then local school boards are able to set their budgets. At least, that’s the way it would work if more of my colleagues valued kids over political games.

Congratulations to Jasper County’s Keystone Laboratories on their 25 anniversary.This environmental testing company was founded in 1990 in Newton by Jeff and Jody King, along with Bruce Ouverson. The services performed at Keystone are critical to water-quality and environmental protection efforts. Keystone is a quality, local employer and continues to grow, expanding to Waterloo and Kansas City.

Last legislative session, Senator Black and I worked together to level the playing field between Keystone and out-of-state competitors. We were successful in eliminating an unfair tax on Keystone and other Iowa environmental testing services. Keystone Laboratories is a great Newton success story and is playing an important role in Jasper County’s comeback.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative.

Please consider coming to the Capitol for a visit or contacting me this session with your thoughts, concerns and ideas for Iowa’s future and Jasper County’s comeback. It belongs to all of us!

I’m proud to represent Newton, Colfax, Baxter, Mingo, Kellogg, Prairie City, Lambs Grove, Ira, and Valeria. I look forward to hearing from you at 641-521-9260 or dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov.

Visit my website at www.electkelley.com. Friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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