Letter: Branstad creates own ‘fiscal cliff’ for Iowa
Op-Ed · January 25, 2013

Our Governor, not to be outdone by his Republican friends in D.C., has created his own “fiscal cliff” for the school districts in Iowa by refusing to set the allowable growth in school budgets until he gets his education reform package passed.

For over 40 years our school aid formula has, by law, required the Iowa legislature to pass an allowable growth formula a full year before superintendents, teachers and school boards negotiate their pay structure which then allows school districts time to have their budgets completed and certified, as required by law, no later than April 15.

Already one year behind schedule and with work not even begun on education reform, which could take weeks, if not months, teachers have no idea what to request and school administration have no idea what to offer in salary negotiations. If this doesn’t complicate things enough, the Governor is proposing to completely change the school aid formula, a proposal he has yet to explain and will take even longer to get passed.

In spite of the evidence that Iowa will end the fiscal year with a $1 billion dollar surplus, the Governor is wasting his time, and ours, by focusing on a property tax reduction which will largely benefit his wealthy corporate friends in Des Moines and elsewhere. He and the legislature should be concentrating their efforts on funding education for the approaching school year.

The Democratic Senate, with our State Senator Bob Dvorsky’s leadership, has already proposed a 4 percent allowable growth for schools, which hardly makes up for two years of 0- and 2-percent increases, but would be good step toward increasing starting teacher pay, something the Governor wants.

The Republican House, which blocked a setting of allowable growth last year, as required by law, should get on board the Senate plan and end this “sad State of affairs.”

Larry Hodgden, Tipton

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