Hi Daily Iowegian!
Subcommittee and committee meetings have filled the Iowa Senate calendars for the past three weeks. On Tuesday, Feb. 4 the Senate held its first debate of the 2014 Legislative session.
Senate Democrats asked for a 6 percent increase in PK-12 education supplemental state aid, formerly known as allowable growth. Last year, the Iowa Legislature approved a 4 percent increase, which has been a common number in recent years. Also common in recent years has been a series of broken promises. The 6 percent increase is not something I can support; this would be an additional $222.5 million allocation to education that taxpayers cannot afford.
A small deed done is greater than the grandest of intentions. There is a long history of over-promising and under-delivering on funding for education in Iowa. I believe we need to make sustainable commitments and keep those promises. Since 2002, the Iowa Legislature has failed to keep its commitment to local school districts six times — to the tune of nearly $600 million.
Senate Republicans believe it is imperative that we implement a responsible and sustainable rate of increase. In doing this, we must apply the responsible budgeting principles of not spending more than we take in, and not making promises to Iowa schools that we can’t afford to keep.
Iowa National Guard Adjutant Gen. Tim Orr spoke before a joint session of the Iowa Legislature Tuesday during the annual State of the National Guard address. It is comforting to know nearly 10,000 Iowa men and women serving in the National Guard stand ready to assist our state in times of an emergency, and to defend our nation and the freedoms we enjoy.
The National Guard plays a vital role in our national defense. Gen. Orr said nearly 45 percent of the men and women in the Iowa National Guard are combat veterans. In the past decade, the National Guard and Air Guard have been deployed to more than 35 countries around the globe, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
Gen. Orr noted for the first time since 2002, our Iowa soldiers are no longer serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. When the general announced this during his Condition of the Guard speech, it received a hearty applause. I also wish to applaud the efforts of our volunteer Guard troops who have served and continue to serve. Gen. Orr was correct when he said our Guard is the most proficient in the history of our state.
The general also raised concerns about the transitions the Guard will face in 2014. As a legislator, I believe it is important to be mindful and supportive of our troops as they transition from war into civilian life, and as they deal with constrained resources. Gen. Orr said our guard troops have not faced such challenging transitions since World War II.
Senate Republicans proudly stand by our troops. After all, they are there for Iowans in our times of need when disaster strikes, or when they bravely answer the call for deployment around the world. The Legislature must be ready to show the same respect when called upon in the Guard’s time of need.
Please join me for our legislative forum at the Chariton Valley Planning office located at 308 N. 12th in Centerville at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.
Sen. Ken Rozenboom