Your Capitol Voice: Breaking down governor’s priorities: Taxes, education by Bobby Kaufman, State Representative · Op-Ed · January 25, 2013
I first want to thank all of you for electing me as your State Representative. I have spent the two months in between the election and session traveling the district meeting with school boards, city councils, farmers, and holding listening posts. I will continue meeting with school boards, city councils, etc., until I have met with everyone in the district.
I will now take your concerns, thoughts, and ideas with me to Des Moines. I was sworn in on Monday, Jan. 14th. As I sat down at my new desk I reminded myself that this isn’t truly my desk. It is your desk, your seat, and your voice in Des Moines. I am merely here to represent all of you and it is an honor to do so.
On the campaign trail I spoke of my priorities for the 85th general assembly. They are as follows: (in no particular order)
• Real property tax reform
• Fostering an environment where our small town businesses can thrive
• Being a good steward of your tax dollars through sound budgeting practices
• Education reform and funding
• Mental health
There are many more issues of importance, but these were the priorities I heard from you most at your doors and at meetings.
One of the main items from the first week was the Governor’s Condition of the State speech. His speech had three main components.
The first spoke of Iowa’s good fiscal standing. We are in a healthy fiscal position when you consider our low unemployment, high revenue, and job growth. Sound budgeting and fiscal responsibility are the backbone of our growth and I look forward to helping to continue that practice.
He also spoke of true property tax reform for all three classifications. I will be a leading voice for property tax reform for commercial, agriculture and residential properties. Also, any bill I support will need to provide assurances to our counties and cities that their dollars will not decline.
His second focus is on education. The governor has proposed a new $187 million education reform proposal. He wants to increase base salaries, institute career pathways for teachers, increase tuition reimbursement, beef up evaluation framework and expand online learning options.
These are just a few highlights and I will touch base on this more next week after we have had more analysis and had a chance to read through the entire proposal. One of the more controversial components is that Branstad wants the legislature to work on his reform before allowable growth.
My education decision will be made the same way I promised. I am going to spend this week contacting educators, administrators, school boards and parents from my district to seek their input on how this will affect House District 73.
The final focus of the Governor’s speech was about Iowa becoming the healthiest state in the nation. This is a non-partisan issue and something we can all focus on to combat soaring health care costs.
I started the process to introduce my first two bills as a legislator this week. My very first bill will have a Democratic co-sponsor. It deals with eminent domain and property rights. Too often families, farmers, and small businesses are steamrolled by deep-pocketed interests who wear them out in court to obtain the land for which the owners have worked hard.
The second bill I filed removed the ability of the state to allocate funds to any project involved with the condemnation of a family farm. I will continue to be a leading voice for all of your property rights. I have also been reaching across party lines on this issue and have been pleased with the progress. I will continue working on all property rights this week.
Please contact me with any of your thoughts, ideas, and concerns. You can reach me at: 563-260-3355, email@example.com, or visit me at the Capitol. I will also be holding listening posts nearly every weekend.
Listening Posts: Saturday, Jan. 26, Bennett American Legion at 8:30 a.m.; Durant Hill of Beans (718 5th St) at 10:30 a.m.; Lowden City Hall – 1 p.m.
Visitors to the Capitol this week: Al Kroeger, Mike Shuger, Jim Williams and Jack Schmoll of Wilton. Mark Henning of Muscatine. Dennis Anderson of Moscow. Deb Lange of Davenport.
You may contact Rep. Kaufmann at Bobby.Kaufmann@legis.iowa.gov or 563-260-3355.