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Legislative Update 1/29/2015

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WILLS
State Representative

"Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."  Ronald Reagan

Legislative Update

Friends,

The public school debate encapsulated the main part of this week's session.  The debate centered around what is a "fair" amount to spend for our children's basic education.  The House has currently settled on 1.25 percent and we have yet to hear from the Senate Democrats on this issue as they have decided to wait and see what we send to them.   
In the end, our children need to know that their education is extremely important but that we will not compromise what we feel are vital values of spending less than our state takes in, not use one time money to fund on-going needs, not intentionally underfunding programs, and to return unused tax dollars to Iowa's Taxpayers.  
House Republicans passed a responsible bill that operates within the House Republican Budget Principles but I still am hearing that folks would like some accountability of the money that is spent by our schools.  Please let me know your thoughts on school spending.
 
Warmest Regard,
John
 
2015-16 House Republican Budget Principles

House Republicans are committed to these principles to produce a balanced and sustainable state budget:
  1. We will spend less than the state collects;
  2. We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
  3. We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and
  4. We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

Legislative Forums
 

January 31, 2015
Rock Rapids
8:00am-9:30am
Forster Community Center
404 Main Street
February 7, 2015 
Spencer

9:00am-10:30am

Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 

Arnolds Park 

11:30am-12:30pm

Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street
February 21, 2015 

Spencer

9:00am-10:30am 

Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 

Arnolds Park 

11:30am-12:30pm

Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street
February 28, 2015
Rock Rapids
8:00am-9:30am
Forster Community Center
404 Main Street
 

March 7, 2015 

Spencer

9:00am-10:30am

Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 

Arnolds Park 

11:30am-12:30pm

Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street

March 21, 2015 

Spencer

9:00am-10:30am 

Council Chambers

420 2nd Ave. West 
Arnolds Park 

11:30am-12:30pm

Maritime Museum

243 Broadway Street
March 28, 2015 
Rock Rapids
8:00am-9:30am
Forster Community Center
404 Main Street

Priorities from the House

State funding of Iowa’s K-12 schools would increase a total of 1.25 percent over the next year under a bill passed largely along party lines Tuesday night in the Iowa House.
Republicans in control of the House said the funding levels stay responsibly within the state’s budget and they believe spending more on education does not necessarily yield better student achievement.
Democrats said the funding level is inadequate and called for 6 percent increases over each of the next two years while echoing the warnings of state educators who said the Republicans’ plan will lead to larger class sizes, reduced programs, outdated materials, and staff layoffs.
The Republicans’ plan would yield an increase of roughly $48 million in the 2016 fiscal year, according to the state’s nonpartisan fiscal analysts, plus roughly $50 million designated specifically for the teacher leadership program included in the education reform package passed in 2013.
“I am not afraid of spending more dollars on education as long as it is helping to solve problems and meeting the needs of students. That said, spending must be done while adhering to prudent budgeting practices,” said Rep. Ron Jorgensen, R-Sioux City, chairman of the House Education Committee. “Ongoing expenses should only be covered by ongoing revenue sources and we will not spend more than we take in. It is important that we are able to honor the promises we make.”
The House Democrats’ plan would have yielded an increase of roughly $250 million in fiscal 2016 — plus the $50 million for the teacher leadership program — according to their staff analysis. Their attempt to increase the funding to levels called for by educators and education groups statewide was defeated along party lines with one Democrat voting with Republicans.

News from the District

Actualizing a student-led proposal to expand the Sibley-Ocheyedan School District’s agricultural education department became a top priority for the board of education, following an emotion-stirring two hours of discussion Monday, Jan 19. The board voted 3-2 in support of the plan, which includes hiring an additional teacher. Read more about the expansion in the Jan. 14 issue of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

Fun Fact from District 1

Hawkeye Point is the highest natural point in Iowa at 1,670 feet.  It is approximately 4.5 miles north of Sibley on the eastern side of SR 60 and approximately 3.5 miles south of the Iowa-Minnesota state border. The high ground lies 100 feet due south of an old silo.

The land that includes the highpoint was donated by the Sterler family, who worked this land for many decades, to Osceola County with the stipulation that the land be turned into a park. Osceola County, through its Economic Development Commission and Hawkeye Point Committee, has removed a few structures that were deemed to be hazardous to public safety including the old hog feed bunker at the highpoint site and a few small barns. They have erected an informational kiosk which highlights the family and the county and features a display of license plates from the 50 states sent in over the years to the Sterlers.

The county purchased approximately 6 acres of surrounding land including the old family farm house, which is being used as office space for the county. There are a flagpole, picnic bench, tile mosaic, several granite markers, and five tall posts with signs pointing to the other 49 state highpoints, each with the correct distance noted. The local 4-H group and high school youths contributed a great deal to this effort. The Hawkeye Point Commission also recently purchased a wooded plot of land of about 7 acres on the north side of the county road abutting the property with the intent to turn it into a campground.

The Highpointers Foundation, a non-profit charity set up to benefit privately owned state highpoints, has provided much of the funding for the renovations at Hawkeye Point.

Map of the Week

The map of the week is of the Property Tax Rate by Township. 

The map can be found here

Quick Links

Governor Branstad

 

Iowa Judicial Branch

 

Iowa Legislature

 

 Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey

 

Secretary of State Paul Pate

 

  State Auditor Mary Mosiman

 

State Senator David Johnson

 

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald

 

U.S. Representative Steve King

 

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 

Legislators Host FFA Member

Sen. Dave Johnson (R-Ocheyedan) and Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Devan Vander Veen from the Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA at the Capitol this week. Devan was in Des Moines to participate in FFA Day on the Hill and is the Northwest State Vice President. He met with legislators and toured the historic capitol building.

Pictured here are Sen. Johnson and Rep. Wills with Devan Vander Veen.

Legislators Host YMCA Members
Reps. Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids) and John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) met with Norm Johnson, Jeff Thee, and Britleigh Martin from Spirit Lake at the Capitol this week. The group came to Des Moines to attend YMCA Advocacy Days at the Capitol.

Pictured here are Rep. Jones, Britleigh Martin, Jeff Thee, Rep. Wills, and Norm Johnson.

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