Will preschool exist if House File 45 is eventually passed by the Senate or will it not?
That was one of the central points debated as the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a legislative session with local legislators Friday. There was a great deal of discussion about education, especially preschool, but also some discussion on business and tax issues as well.
"Our proposal is not to eliminate preschools," said Rep. Annette Sweeney, R-Alden. "We are not. We are going to look at the funding and how the funding stream goes for preschools."
Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, who has been critical of the proposal coming from House Republicans, had a different interpretation of the bill.
"I, obviously, disagree with you whole heartedly," he said. "House File 45 eliminates funding for preschool altogether."
Sodders went on to say the Republicans have not put an alternative plan in place to fund preschool or come up with another model they think will be cheaper to operate.
The Republican proposal for preschool, while it passed the Iowa House, faces a long, uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The governor has proposed scaling back funding for preschool, but not zeroing the item out completely.
The governor has also proposed taking commercial property tax valuations from 100 percent down to 60 percent, giving those properties a rollback similar to what is already available on residential properties. The state would provide aid for part of revenue local governments would lose, but not all of it.
"I think we can do something, but I think 8 percent [reduction annually] is too much," Sodders said.
Sweeney expressed more enthusiasm for the plan.
"It's really a spectacular way to create jobs," she said.
Marshalltown Mayor Gene Beach said the proposal would force the city to raise property taxes on a $100,000 home as much as $356 to make up the difference.
"That's substantial," he said.
Regarding some of the governor's other budget points, Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said it was a mixed bag.
"It looks like it's fairly good news for the Iowa Veterans Home, not so good for the community colleges," he said.
All legislators said nothing has been set in stone the budget will be a work in progress.
Contact Ken Black at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org