The second session of Eggs and Issues of 2016 was held at Smokey Row Coffee Shop in Oskaloosa Saturday morning at 8:30. Legislators Ken Rozenboom from the Iowa Senate, and Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets from the Iowa House were in attendance to answer questions from Oskaloosa area residents.
The state legislators started out by giving updates on what’s happening with state government.
Representative Sheets stated that Iowa is the 3rd best managed state in the nation, behind North Dakota and Wyoming.
Senator Rozenboom stated that Iowa is spending more money than it’s bringing in. He also said that that Iowa’s budget went from six million dollars to 7.2 million dollars in the past few years, and that the new money goes towards education, Medicaid, and replacing the lost property taxes.
Representative Vander Linden said that Iowa isn’t bringing in as much revenue as expected, because the state guessed wrong on how much they would get. He said that law requires the state to set the budget for not only this year, but next year as well. Representative Vander Linden went on to say that 84% of all new revenue is going to K-12 education at 2%, and other pieces of the state government are suffering because of it.
The main focus of the session was revenue and the budget, and more specifically, funding for school programs. Multiple community members were concerned about how many school districts are “penny-pinching.”
Senator Rozenboom brought up the fact that growth in K-12 education overlooks the money that goes into teacher leadership.
One community member brought up tax rules, and how the governor vetoed money for education, which Representative Vander Linden cleared up for the audience. He stated that “some governor” convinced the department revenue to interpret the tax rules in a certain way in order to tax manufacturers for replacement parts that costs under five hundred dollars, even though the law said it was not taxable. Representative Vander Linden went on to say that although it unfortunately effected revenue, the state unjustly over-taxed Iowa manufacturers.
Senator Rozenboom followed with a close-to-home example. He said that Clow Valve Company was paying sales tax on casting sand, which he said was unjust. He said it was just like charging a farmer sales tax on fertilizer or livestock feed.
Another community member shared her concerns about mandated summer retention programs, and holding back students. She said her daughter has a learning disability, and is forced to follow the retention rates of other students. Representative Vander Linden stated that if a child has a learning disability, he or she should not be forced to the same standards as a student without a learning disability, and the law regarding that needs to be changed.
Other issues touched on were legislation on fantasy sports gambling, water quality, and minimum wage.
The third session of Eggs and Issues will be held on February 13th at Smokey Row Coffee Shop at 8:30 a.m.