The conference committee on the legislation (SF174) to fund our schools for the 2016-17 school year has met and informal discussions continue among the members of the committee. As you may know, the Senate has passed a 4 percent increase, while the House has passed a 2 percent increase. Governor Branstad proposed a 2.45 percent increase.
If we want schools to innovate and to expand opportunities, like career and technical education, the arts, math and science, and community learning opportunities, we need to provide resources for them. After years of short-changing education, Governor Branstad and House Republicans need to step up to give our schools the resources they need to stop the cuts and provide world-class educational opportunities for all students.
You can help by speaking up in public, by calling Governor Branstad’s office at 515-281-5211 (weekdays), and by emailing legislators of both parties and in both chambers. On Twitter, I am using the hash tag, #FundIowaSchools. Please speak up for our schools and our students.
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT TO STOP MEDICAID PRIVATIZATION
The Iowa Senate passed legislation (SF2125) earlier this month with bipartisan support to stop Governor Branstad’s proposal to use three out-of-state for-profit companies to administer managed care for Medicaid recipients. This proposal is flawed because Iowa’s Medicaid administration is effective and is making ongoing improvements. Shipping millions of dollars out of state to for-profit companies will not help our system. Even if privatization could work, Governor Branstad has badly mismanaged the process, and it needs to be stopped. SF2125 is now pending in the Iowa House.
CLEAN WATER PROPOSALS
There are numerous clean water proposals pending before the Iowa Legislature. It will take a major effort to get the Legislature to pass clean water legislation, but I believe there are real solutions that will work that involve additional public investment (through the Natural Resources Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund or other source), a transparent monitoring system so that we can measure progress, and a cooperative watershed-by-watershed approach. Please join me in speaking up for clean water solutions with legislators, Governor Branstad and the public.
DATING VIOLENCE PREVENTION
One bill that has not gotten much attention could make a huge difference for young people in our state. In the Senate Education Committee, Senator Liz Mathis forged unanimous bipartisan support for SF2195, which would add dating violence prevention and affirmative consent to our “human growth and development” (sex education) classes in our schools. Almost one in eight high school students report being abused by a dating partner, and nearly one in five women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. This bill, supported by the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council, is a critical step toward reducing dating violence and promoting sexual health.