Education funding, Medicaid dominate discussion at Grassley listening post

BCLUW and GMG Superintendent Ben Petty (left) and State Rep. Pat Grassley (right) discuss education during a listening post in Conrad on Friday morning. (Rob Maharry/The Grundy Register photo)

State Representative Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) is once again making the rounds for a series of listening posts in the communities that make up his district, and he stopped in both Beaman and Conrad on Friday morning. In Conrad, funding for K-12 education and Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to allow three private managed care operators to oversee the state’s Medicaid program were the main topics of discussion.

           

BCLUW and GMG Superintendent Ben Petty attended the event to talk about Supplemental State Aid (SSA), or new money that comes into school districts each year on a per-pupil basis, and how it affects school budgeting—an issue on which he has voiced strong opinions over the last few years. The Republican-controlled Iowa House has passed a bill with an SSA figure of two percent (or about $81 million in new money split between the state’s 340 public school districts), while the Senate, which is under Democratic control, wants four percent. Grassley argued that the four percent figure is not fully funded, and supporting it is irresponsible from a fiscal standpoint.

           

Grassley engaged in a somewhat contentious exchange with Collette Beeghly of Conrad, who pressed him on school funding as well as a law that allows children under 14 to use firearms with parental supervision.

           

“Why have the budgets not been set for the schools? It’s a law that it’s supposed to be done within the first 30 days. Why can’t you get that done?” she asked, in reference to a state law that requires the legislature and the governor to set state SSA rates for the next two years within the first month of the legislative session but has been largely ignored recently. 

 

Read more in this week's Grundy Register.