On Wednesday, Sept. 2, the Clinton Herald wrote an article titled “Iowa House needs more Democrats, state representative says,” with Rep. Mary Wolfe detailing her struggle to pass bills in the legislature.
The article has a number of quotes from Rep. Wolfe on legislation she didn’t support, like the largest income tax cut in Iowa history, and how bills only seem to benefit Polk County and don’t benefit our communities at all. One of the clearest pieces of evidence to prove this statement inaccurate is the increase in transportation funding for rural schools. It costs much more to transport students to and from rural schools because of greater distances. These fixed costs would take away from the dollars being spent in classrooms, giving urban schools an edge over rural schools. State funding has increased over the past four years and now schools with higher transportation costs receive money to offset that difference so rural schools can spend it to teach and help students succeed.
She also mentioned “cuts in education”. This year, despite a global recession caused by the coronavirus leading to a huge reduction in state revenues, K-12 schools still received nearly $100 million in new education funding. Schools can count on that funding increase because the Republican-led legislature carefully budgeted over the past three years.
Rep. Wolfe conveniently failed to mention what happened when Democrats had control of the House, the Senate, and the governor’s office. K-12 schools were hit with hundreds of millions in unkept promises and budget cuts. Millions of dollars promised to Iowa schools were not only not delivered, but additional funds were taken away. These are the same schools she says are now “desperately doing what they can to make it work.” If you ask many school leaders who worked through the last recession, they know it is better to have your budget increased year after year, than deal with the massive budget cuts schools sustained under Democrat leadership.
There is one issue both Rep. Wolfe and I can agree on: the hotel-motel excise tax bill passed this year. It will have a big impact on our community and bringing people to our area. This policy has been a priority for Clinton for many years and yet it was never passed into law, until this year. This bill was my top priority this session and I worked hard to get it passed into law in my second year in the Iowa Senate. It is also a great example of what you can do when you actually get to work to get bills passed in both chambers.
In the legislature, Republicans are focused on passing legislation to give more opportunities to Iowans, grow our state, and make Iowa a great place to live, work and raise a family. Our policies led to a strong economy in Iowa prior to coronavirus, stable education funding, and they are the right policies as the state works to rebuild the economy after the pandemic.
Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, represents District 49 in the Iowa Senate.