The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

April 19, 2014

Bills to move quickly in final days

Tuesday marks the 100th and last day of this scheduled session.

After Tuesday, clerks will be sent home and legislators driving and living expenses will no longer be paid by the state. That usually means remaining legislation and Fiscal Year 2015 budget bills will move rather quickly. Most of the work in the House has been completed but several remain to be worked in the Senate.

If a bill is in Conference committee, that means both chambers could not agree and special committees, made up of members from both chambers, are assigned to work out an agreement. We are finally feeling like the end of this session is near.

Education appropriations

Last Tuesday afternoon and evening, we had a lengthy debate on the education budget, SF2347, on the House floor. There was an amendment brought up, H-8273, establishing 6 percent state aid (formerly allowable growth) for the Fiscal Year 2016 school year.

Three House Republicans and I voted along with 46 House Democrats in favor of this amendment but it failed to reach a majority (51 votes). Even though I feel uncomfortable with the lack of certainty regarding our future revenues, I thought it was best for us to discuss setting FY16 state aid for our school districts.

The biggest piece of the bill is the first of three total installments for the Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) system that was part of 2013’s education reform initiative. Fifty million dollars were appropriated to the first round of grantees, with $50 million to follow each of the next two years.

In addition to this education reform funding, the bill also provides funding for pilots for English Language Learning initiatives, Iowa Learning Online’s courses available for districts to use, funding for administrator mentoring and coaching which is necessary for the success of the TLC system, and funding for AEAs to support the TLC system.

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Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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