CEDAR RAPIDS — The legislative session is scheduled to close at the end of this month, but neither Republicans nor Democrats seem prepared to budge from their positions on two contentious education issues.
On K-12 funding, Gov. Terry Branstad and Republicans in the Legislature are pushing for zero allowable growth. Public schools in the state would receive no increase in per-pupil funding from the state. Democrats who control the Senate, though, want 2 percent allowable growth, which they say is a modest increase.
“It’s always been an investment in our future and we’ve seen a good return on our investment,” said Rep. Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids on Saturday during a League of Women Voters forum at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. Ten Linn County lawmakers and about 100 community members attended the event.
Lawmakers said Saturday they’re optimistic they can work out a deal and said discussions have been productive lately.
“Sooner or later we have to come to an agreement,” said House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha. “I actually think it’s been remarkably good — much better than anyone in the press would have you believe and better than anyone thought at the start of the session.”
Lawmakers also discussed state-funded preschool. Following a push from the governor, the House passed a bill that would cut preschool funding. Senate Democrats said they hope to block that legislation.
Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids, said even business leaders around the state have encouraged the Legislature to keep preschool funding in place.
“They came to the Legislature and said, ‘We want it. Please continue to support it,’ ” she said. “Something’s wrong when you’re playing politics with preschoolers.”
The Democrats also said a bill banning people from filming secret video on Iowa farms will not pass in its current form.
“Senators are meeting with the attorney general to make it constitutional,” said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville. “I don’t see how it’s constitutional at all but they’re going to see if — and this is really cynical — they can make it slightly constitutional.”
The Republican-controlled House passed the secret video ban but the bill has stalled in the Senate. Those in favor of the bill say animal rights activists should follow legal protocol if they suspect a farmer is committing animal abuse. Democrats and activists, though, say undercover filmmakers should be allowed to reveal inhumane conditions on factory farms.
“It’s just mind-boggling,” said Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids. “You’ve got someone committing animal abuse and we’re going to turn some person videotaping that into a felon while the person doing the abuse gets some misdemeanor.”