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Steckman: School funding is 410 days late

It was nice to see Hoover Elementary students Jack Harty, Sam Swegle and Alex and Jacob Gold, accompanied by their parents of Mason City who were here for the Iowa History Bee on March 27, 2013.
It was nice to see Hoover Elementary students Jack Harty, Sam Swegle and Alex and Jacob Gold, accompanied by their parents of Mason City who were here for the Iowa History Bee on March 27, 2013.

From Rep. Sharon Steckman –

We received a report from the non-partisan Revenue Estimating Committee this week that contained the good news that general revenues to the state are continuing to improve.  Compared to actual collections for fiscal year 2012, the new estimate has revenues growing by 5.2% or $325 million more than last year.  Please refer to the link below for more information.

We have over $1.5 billion in surplus and reserves.  It is my hope that we will notcontinue to make cuts to important programs, but will support efforts that will help Iowans get back to work, grow our skilled workforce and make sure that every child graduates with skills they need to land a good-paying job.

I am concerned about such under-funded programs as:

  • Vocational Rehabilitation program has been cut by almost $600,000.  We will lose full funding from the federal government due to this cut.
  • $350,000 is needed for the Department of the Blind to match $1.3 million in federal funding – again for vocational rehabilitation.  Remaining funds could be used for the Independent Living program.
  • An amendment was offered (and rejected) to adequately fund libraries that are providing the workforce development satellite stations.  This would have restored a funding level closer to what was provided in 2008.
  • Tobacco cessation and prevention services are nowhere close to the Center of Disease Control’s recommended levels.
  • It is still unclear whether Mental Health Funding will receive enough revenue to cover all of the needed (and ignored) services.
  • The budget for social services caseworkers remains the same even though their caseloads do not allow them to provide adequate service to their clients.
  • The Regent Universities funding is $150 million below the levels provided in fiscal year ’09.

Meanwhile, the Senate has passed their Education plan and Medicaid expansion.  More detailed stories appear on the link below.

As I head home for the Easter weekend, I am hoping that I have driven for the last time through snow and that, by the time I head back to Des Moines, spring will have fully arrived complete with warm breezes, budding trees and spring flowers.

I also hope that we will – as of next week – get busy on the important appropriations bills that still remain to be debated. Not the least of which is school funding, now 410 days late.

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