Stanerson’s funding actions speak louder than his words

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 23 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 10:01 am in

By Mark Smith

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State Rep. Quentin Stanerson recently authored a column (“Agree or not, have the conversation,” March 9) to explain his support of a new $207 million program for home schools and private schools. He went to great lengths trying to explain the process and why he did it, but the facts are the same.

Rep. Stanerson signed his name on House File 2090 and his signature means the bill has his support.

The real problem here is that he missed the whole point. This isn’t about process, it’s about priorities.

What Stanerson conveniently left out of his column is that he opposes (and has voted against) increasing basic state aid for Iowa public schools, called allowable growth.

By law, the Iowa Legislature was supposed to act by Feb. 13 and set basic state aid for public schools. It’s been the law for decades now and it guarantees school funding is at the front of the line in our budget process.

Over the last few months, we’ve heard from parents, school board members and superintendents about the importance of following the law and setting school funding this year. I know Stanerson has heard the same from local school leaders in Linn County.

In addition to using state dollars efficiently, local school leaders need to know state funding to plan for long-term efforts to expand early literacy, boost student achievement and reduce class size for Iowa’s 479,000 public school students.

The Iowa Senate already has approved a 6 percent increase for the 2015-2016 school year, which is about $196 million. Unfortunately, Stanerson and Republican leaders still are refusing to follow the law and even debate the bill to fund public schools this year. They recently voted down the Senate bill.

I believe the Iowa Legislature has an obligation to follow the law and set public school funding first.

Stanerson is ignoring public school funding ($196 million) this year while at the same time supporting new funding ($207 million) for home schools and private schools.

Politicians sometimes use the legislative process to mask their priorities. In this case, Rep. Stanerson’s actions speak much louder than his words.

Mark Smith of Marshalltown is Iowa House Minority Leader. Comments: mark.smith@legis.iowa.gov

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