Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

April 30, 2013

Education funding bill in gridlock, for now

By Michael Schaffer Managing Editor
The Daily Iowegian

---- — Saturday morning highlights from the Iowa Statehouse-based political reality show called "The Divided Legislature" played out in Centerville at Chariton Valley Planning and Development in front of 20. The show is expected to go past it's allotted time frame.

Iowa Rep. Larry Sheets (R-Moulton) and Iowa Sen. Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa) during the third and final Legislative Coffee for 2013 talked about how each chamber is treating education funding and the state budget.

Rozenboom said Senate Democrats want to increase the state's Fiscal Year 2014 budget by 11 percent over FY 2013.

"Some of us find that awful hard to swallow." Rozenboom said. "I think it's reckless to increase state spending by 11 percent in one year."

Part of the proposed Senate FY 2014 budget is an increase in the agricultural and natural resources budget from $35 million to $63 million and a 100 percent increase in the economic development budget, Rozenboom said, noting the Senate budget does contain things he would like to do.

"So, those are things I struggle with," Rozenboom said. "There's a thousand ways to spend money. There's a thousand good ideas out there."

Rozenboom said the Senate has yet to offer a counter proposal to the proposed House education bill, which includes 2 percent allowable growth for FY 2014 plus a 2 percent cash infusion and 4 percent allowable growth for FY 2015.

"I've seen a fair amount of grandstanding and posturing on it but I haven't seen a counterproposal yet," Rozenboom said. "That remains a difficult issue."

Rep. Sheets said the House sent their education bill to the Senate and they ignored it for six weeks then they sent their own version back to the House. The House rejected the Senate version so it went to conference committee.

Sheets said the House education bill contains specific language dealing with homeschooling and school accreditation they insist must remain in the final bill.

"The words or the language in the House bill, we insist on for that 4 percent allowable growth for both years," Sheets said. "So, that really took the leadership of the Senate by surprise. So that's why things are on hold."

Rozenboom said the 2013 Iowa Legislature's stance on education funding boils down to the Republican view versus the Democrat view.

Rozenboom said the state has four main issues to address —Medicaid expansion, property tax reform, appropriations and education funding — and until they are resolved it will mean a legislative session that will go past it's May 3 deadline.