The view from here
Happy New Year! The 2016 Legislative Session started on January 11 with all of the usual pomp and circumstance. I am honored to be able to represent the people of Senate District 4 in the Iowa Legislature. The second day of session Governor Branstad delivered his Condition of the State address, which usually sets the tone for the beginning of the session. He said Iowa has been declared the third best managed state in the Union and, currently, we have the lowest unemployment rate since 2001.
One of the Governor’s statements especially impressed me. He mentioned since 2010, state funding of K-12 education has increased 35 percent. I was dubious, but upon checking with the Governor’s office I found this to be true. How many citizens can say their income has gone up 35 percent since 2010? Yet, I hear from schools increasing state aid less than 4 percent is crippling our education system. We have to remember every dollar we spend on education comes from another state program. The largest program outside of education is healthcare. We have tremendous growth in the state funding of Medicaid this year with $41 million more coming from our General Fund. This is in addition to $89 million we owe on the current year’s budget. All of this boils down to, “Don’t expect a large increase in state funding of schools this year.”
One thing the Governor did not mention in his speech was the defunding of abortion providers by the state. I had hoped the Governor would have made some comments about abortion providers, especially since the release of videos exposing the callous practice of harvesting body parts from aborted babies. Not only that, one provider has been involved in a lawsuit for fraud since 2011. After checking with the Governor’s office, I found there is a plan included in the Governor’s budget that will allow the legislature to defund organizations that perform abortions. I just wish he would have mentioned it.
January 16 is National Religious Freedom Day. President George H. W. Bush proclaimed the first National Religious Freedom Day in 1993, citing the actions of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison from 1777 to 1786. There is a wealth of information available for students and educators at the website: religiousfreedomday.com. I especially encourage educators to visit this site to find material to use in class. It is important we teach accurate history to the next generation or we will destine them to make the same mistakes that have been made before.
This session, I serve on these committees: Economic Growth, Local Government, Senate Rules, and Administration & Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee. I encourage citizens to contact me with any of their questions or concerns. I can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 641-430-0424.