Today, I had a guest column appear in the Des Moines Register explaining that education is at the heart of the legislative stalemate and overtime session. You can review it at this web site: desmoinesregister.com/iowa-view
The bottom line in my guest column: Iowa needs to invest in education and job training to support economic prosperity today and in the future. The House budget would result in cuts and additional student debt that would hurt our economy today and into the future.
I hope this information is helpful. Please continue to speak up for the issues you care about. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me at this email address.
15 KEY DIFFERENCES AT ISSUE IN LEGISLATIVE STALEMATE
My 600-word guest column focused on education, because it is the biggest difference between the parties, but it didn’t allow for as many issues and as much detail about what is truly at stake. Here are 15 key differences at issue in the 2015 legislative stalemate:
1. K-12 education funding – House is stuck at 1.25 percent, which would result in a loss of 1,000 teaching positions statewide; Senate has offered to compromise at 2.625 percent, still less than is needed, but it would allow most school districts to avoid cuts.
2. Community college funding – House has a status quo budget; Senate provides an $8 million increase so our community colleges can continue to provide job training skills and give students an affordable pathway to a four-year school.
3. University of Iowa funding – House proposes to cut the University of Iowa by $3.4 million; the Senate is supporting a 1.75 percent increase of $4 million, which will allow the Regents to freeze tuition for another year. That is a difference of $235 per student at the University of Iowa.
4. Iowa State University funding – House proposes to cut Iowa State University by $620,000, while the Senate is supporting a $5.2 million increase to allow a tuition freeze and meet ISU’s rapid growth in student enrollment. That $5.8 million difference is worth $166 per student.
5. University of Northern Iowa funding – House proposes a $4 million increase, but because of past cuts and shortfalls, it is far short of what UNI needs to maintain services and a tuition freeze. That is why the Senate supports a $7 million increase. The additional $3 million would allow a tuition freeze and is worth more than $250 per student at UNI.
6. Private college tuition grant program – House proposes to cut $1.175 million, while the Senate is supporting a $2.1 million increase, for this need-based program to help Iowa students attend Iowa’s private colleges.
7. Quality childcare for low-income working Iowans – House proposes no change, while the Senate would expand eligibility for childcare assistance to 160 percent of federal poverty levels.
8. Mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant – House proposes partial year funding and then privatization of the facilities, while the Senate is proposing ongoing funding and operation of the facilities as the law requires and as needed by so many vulnerable Iowans.
9. Tobacco prevention – House proposes to cut $675,000, while the Senate would maintain current funding for tobacco prevention.
10. Alzheimer’s Education – House removed this funding from the bill, while the Senate would add $100,000 for Alzheimer’s Education.
11. Office of Substitute Decision Maker – House would eliminate this program, while the Senate added $36,000 in funding. The Office of Substitute Decision Maker helps safeguard vulnerable people who do not have family members available to make decisions.
12. Funding to combat human trafficking – House directs the Attorney General to conduct human trafficking training out of existing resources; Senate would add $150,000 for human trafficking enforcement and use other funds to expand human trafficking training and enforcement.
13. Funding for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault – The House proposes to reduce funding by $1 million, while the Senate would maintain funding for programs like those offered by Waypoint.
14. Indigent defense and Legal Aid – House proposes to cut Legal Aid by $400,000 and indigent criminal defense by more than $2.7 million; Senate proposes to maintain current funding.
15. The courts – House proposes to maintain current funding for the courts, which would result in furloughs and court closures as the courts address rising costs; Senate would provide a $5.5 million increase to maintain current operations.
There’s a bit of humor, and even more irony, in that headline.