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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, April 15, 2011

As we wrap up another week in the Capitol, the rain has been coming down all morning. While it’s dreary outside, we’re still pushing ahead on the work Iowans’ sent us here to do. |As we wrap up another week in the Capitol, the rain has been coming down all morning. While it’s dreary outside, we’re still pushing ahead on the work Iowans’ sent us here to do.

This week the House and Senate approved the new redistricting map. Iowa’s redistricting process is one that is fair, open and serves Iowans well.

Our system for redistricting has drawn attention of many states across the country. In fact just this week, Reps. Peter Cownie and Vicki Lensing joined North Carolina legislators for an online press conference touting the Iowa model. In North Carolina, legislators currently draw their own lines but they are now looking to Iowa as the model to implement.

The map passed both the House and Senate, with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. It now goes to the governor for his signature or veto. I believe this version of the map is fair and allows everyone to compete. Ultimately I believe Republicans will be successful under this new map because we are doing what Iowans asked us to: reducing the size and scope of government, reigning in out of control spending, and providing tax relief.

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, redistricting put me in the same district as two other legislators. I have really enjoyed getting to know the people in Cerro Gordo, Franklin and Hancock Counties ñ what a great district I’ve had! I also very much appreciate the emails and phone calls I have been getting, asking me to move into the “new” 54th district. It is something my family and I will continue to discuss, and something I will seriously consider.

The issue of allowable growth, the state’s share of funding for our schools, was once again brought up this week. The House has already passed a zero percent allowable growth rate earlier in the session.

The previous administration and majority party set a 2% allowable growth last year but then proceeded to underfund that new spending authority by $156.1 million. In addition, they used $47.9 million in one-time federal stimulus funds and a one-time transfer of $5.1 million from the Underground Storage Tank Fund to replace general fund dollars.

This is a total of $209.1 million that must be replaced to fulfill our obligations to schools and property tax payers. Add to this a built in program increase of $6.7 million which is included no matter what allowable growth rate is set, and zero percent allowable growth ends up costing $215.9 million just to meet the obligations from the previous legislature.

It is frustrating that $216 million in new money going to schools only results in zero percent allowable growth. In fact, over the last seven years, no legislature has funded as much new state aid as we will this year.

This week I had some great North Iowa visitors stop by and see me at the Capitol! I spent some time visiting with our local Cattlemen who were in town talking about issues they are facing with legislators. I also met with the hard workers at our local REC’s ñ I was able to join them for breakfast.

If you will be visiting, please contact me at or at (515) 281-4618.

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