Who’ll stop the rain

Randy Richardson: Iowa’s “rainy day” funds were created with a promise, to be used on a rainy day. Legislators should tap them now to fully fund schools. -promoted by Laura Belin

For the past year Republicans have touted their record-breaking commitment to funding education in Iowa. They have done this despite the fact that State Supplemental Aid only increased by an average of 1.73 percent from 2011 to 2018. That is slightly below the 1.81 percent average annual rate of inflation during that same time period. (School district costs typically rise by 3-4 percent annually.)

When questioned about this disparity, Republicans quickly revert to their consistent talking point that their funding “is responsible, sustainable, and demonstrates that education is a top priority.”

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Make Iowa great again: Yes, we can

Paul W. Johnson wrote this piece in 2017, when Republicans in the state legislature passed a budget bill that defunded Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and eliminated it from the Iowa Code. Governor Terry Branstad signed the bill and left in place the sections redirecting funding away from the Leopold Center to the newer, corporate-friendly Nutrient Reduction Center at ISU. But he item-vetoed the section that would have removed all code references to the Leopold Center. Consequently, the center still exists but with no funding for research and education on sustainable agriculture. -promoted by Laura Belin

Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1887. He died in 1948 while fighting a grass fire on his neighbor’s farm. He and his wife, Estella, are buried in a cemetery in Burlington. Aldo Leopold is known today as the father of the wilderness idea, the father of wildlife management in the U.S., and the father of the land ethic. The land ethic encourages us humans to understand that we belong to the community of all life on earth and that we need to learn to love and respect it.

“Conservation means harmony between men and land. When land does well for its owner and the owner does well by his land: when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation. When one or the other grows poorer, we do not.” -Aldo Leopold  

That is why we established the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in 1987.

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Kevin Warth offers unique perspective for Iowa Senate district 44

Tyler Mills is a Democratic activist in southeast Iowa who is consulting for Kevin Warth, one of three Democrats seeking the nomination in Senate district 44. -promoted by Laura Belin

Kevin Warth’s voice is desperately needed within the Democratic caucus in the Iowa Senate. Agriculture has always been the backbone of our state’s economy, and that isn’t going to change.

One of the key issues we are facing as a state is finding a way to make our young people willing to stay in the communities they grew up in–or at the very least, maintaining an interest in the overall benefit of those communities.

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Iowa's K-12 schools on track to be underfunded again

UPDATE: Weeks after state law required the legislature to set school funding levels, House and Senate Republicans agreed in early March to a 2.3 percent increase in state funding for K-12 schools. That’s higher than past increases since Republicans gained full control of state government in 2017 but low by historical standards.

Many of Iowa’s public school districts will be forced to make cuts in the coming year, as state funding for K-12 education continues to lag behind rising costs.

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Iowa governor, Republicans wrong to back billion-dollar borrowing scheme

State Senator Joe Bolkcom makes the case against a deal to lease the University of Iowa utility system for 50 years. The Iowa Board of Regents are scheduled to vote on the plan on December 10, but important details have been kept from the public. -promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ support of an exotic and risky funding scheme is an admission of her failure to support our public universities. GOP tax cuts for wealthy Iowans have led to a dramatic decline in support for our public universities.

It’s hard to believe that Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans think it makes sense to borrow more than $1 billion dollars to pay for on-going programs at the University of Iowa over the next 50 years.

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Iowa Senate district 32 preview: Craig Johnson vs. Pam Egli

Republicans won six Democratic-held Iowa Senate districts in 2016. All of them were among the eighteen Iowa Senate districts where voters had favored President Barack Obama in 2012 but Donald Trump four years later.*

Some of the largest swings toward Trump occurred in northeast Iowa. Parts of four counties make up Senate district 32, where Democrat Pam Egli recently announced that she will challenge first term State Senator Craig Johnson.

While this race does not currently appear to be among the best 2020 pickup opportunities for Democrats in the upper chamber, it could become competitive. Either way, state legislative elections in this part of Iowa will be important to watch for signs of whether Republicans are able consolidate their 2016 gains.

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