Education Funding Important Issue for Local Residents Print
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Saturday, 08 February 2014 08:27

A packed Smokey Row Coffee House in Oskaloosa brought about lively discussion of state issues that included funding Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, banning telemedicine abortion, and what to do with the state’s revenue surplus.

Several in attendance believed that surplus should be put toward education and questioned the legislators about setting the supplemental state aid for education, formerly called ‘allowable growth’.

Iowa law requires the legislature to set the supplemental state aid for the '15-'16 school year by February 13th.

“My role here as superintendent is to control the budget, I can’t do that if you’re not going to follow the law and in five days set that [supplemental state aid].” said Oskaloosa Schools Superintendent Russ Reiter.

Rep. Guy Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa) responded saying, “We need to know how much money is in the bank before we make any promises.” “To me, it just makes sense to wait until we can know what we can responsibly provide.”

Others responded, pointing out that lawmakers are not following the law, “I do not think that education is asking for anything more that what others are asking, and that is for you to follow the law,” said Laurie Fiscella.

“We can set [supplemental state aid] at what we know will be safe and that will be 0%. Or we can wait until we know how much money we have to hand out,” said Vander Linden.

Sen. Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa) added, “history tells us that the state legislature will consistently fund education.”

Other topics discussed included what the state’s role should be regarding several transportation projects that are going on in the area. Those are the Highway 63 project and the Regional Airport project.

“The US Department of Transportation, both aviation and highway, in Washington, DC made it abundantly clear that it only wants to invest in intermodal transportation solutions,” said Musco CEO Joe Crookham.

Vander Linden said that is his understanding too, hearing officials say that “if you’re going to want your road fixed, you’re going to have to have the airport as well.”

Vander Linden said that he thinks the road is more important in the near term because of how much use the road receives from trucks that deliver to Cargil, and because of travel to and from I-80.

“Certainly the state will be involved with the road in a big way, and it’s something that I very strongly think needs to be fixed,” said Vander Linden.

Rozenboom praised the work completed by the South Central Iowa Transportation Coalition. That group worked with engineers to propose a new Highway 63 route.

"What the coalition has done has been the most critical work,” said Rozenboom.

Rep. Larry Sheets (R-Moulton) was also in attendance. The forum was moderated by Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt. The next Eggs and Issues is February 22nd.

You can watch the hour long forum in the video player below: