The first Legislative Coffee of 2014 at Chariton Valley Planning and Development in Centerville was well attended by more than 40 and for 80 minutes the talk was primarily about water quality and Rural Improvement Zones.
The Legislative Coffee is a tradition in Centerville where elected officials who represent Appanoose County come to face their constituents with their questions and concerns.
Elected officials who represent Appanoose County are Rep. Larry Sheets, of Moulton and Sen. Ken Rozenboom, of Oskaloosa.
To start the Coffee, each man delivered opening comments, which mostly centered on what has transpired in Des Moines since the 85th legislative session opened on Jan. 13.
What followed was a heavy dose of questions dealing with water quality next followed by RIZ’s and then education.
Sheets said he is working to insure Iowa and not a federal group controls the school curriculum and testing standards for Iowa school children.
Gov. Branstad issued an executive order to that effect, but Sheets said he is working to insure the governor has the support of the legislature.
Sheets said some want a 6 percent increase in allowable growth for education. He called 6 percent “playing politics.”
Sheets said over the last 20 plus years, education funding increases have been closely tied to state revenue increases, which average around 3.1 percent per year.
Rozenboom said the Senate passed a 6 percent increase in education supplemental state aid, or allowable growth.
“I do not believe that’s sustainable, as Larry pointed out,” Rozenboom said. ‘We’ve never hit that 6 percent number before. The highest we’ve ever promised was 4 percent.”
Rozenboom said the state has a bad habit of not keeping its promises, especially with education funding where six out of the last 12 years the state has not delivered on what it promised.
Rozenboom called that “irresponsible budgeting.”
The Iowa Legislature last year approved a 4 percent increase in allowable growth for education.