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 Statehouse News

 
A very snowy week five has come to the end at the Capitol. Funding our K-12 schools was a top priority these past few days on three important pieces of legislation.  We debated and voted on the first two of those bills - State Supplemental Aid (HF 306) and additional funding for transportation equity (HF 307). The majority party passed 2.06%, but I stayed strong at 3% because that’s what our kids and educators need.

The majority party passed SSA at 2.06%, and while this is more than what has been appropriated over the last few years, the fact that our school districts have been systematically underfunded for almost a decade has made it increasingly difficult for them to make ends meet and get ahead.  I stood strong in our request for a 3% increase because it is a reasonable and responsible amount our state can afford.  And at 2.06% most school districts are barely breaking even when it comes to dealing with the cost of inflation. We need to do more than allow our schools to survive; we need to fund them in a manner that allows them to thrive.
I am disappointed that on the most important part of our budget – our kids’ education and future – there was no effort made for a reasonable compromise as no member of the majority party asked for the input or support of any of us in the minority. Unfortunately, they were only negotiating with themselves when it came to 2.06%. 

I was pleased, however, that there was almost unanimous support on the second piece of legislation which would provide funding for transportation equity and to raise the overall cost per pupil, which appropriates additional dollars across the state.  While the transportation dollars primarily impact rural school districts, I am proud to stand up for kids no matter where they live to ensure more of their funding is making it into the classroom.

The third bill is on extending SAVE (HSB 18), the statewide penny for school infrastructure.  I was pleased to vote it out of the Education Committee this week.  The legislation is a top priority for school districts in every corner of the state, including Ankeny and Saydel, because it helps fund major projects like new buildings. And anyone with kids in the Ankeny schools knows this is a big need!  I’m happy to see this progress and I am hopeful the bill will finally get to the Governor this year.  It now goes to the Ways and Means Committee as there is a tax component to the bill. 

On another note, some of the things I really enjoy in committee meetings are the presentations from a variety of state agencies.  During the Economic Development Budget Subcommittee this week, we heard from the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) on their affordable housing, water quality, and agricultural development programs. They provided some details on investments in each of our districts. Here are some fun facts for HD38: in FY2018, IFA investments supported 308 homebuyers, 116 military service members, 4 housing tax credits, 182 Home and Community-Based Services Rent Subsidies and 10 water quality projects. I'm glad to see such strong investments in our community.

Speaking of IFA, one of the statewide services they provide is a website to assist landlords and tenants to find each other and increase access to housing information. I highly encourage you to check out www.iowahousingsearch.org if this would be helpful to you!  It’s supported by a toll-free, bilingual call center and also provides disaster preparedness and response. It’s a great resource and I was pleased to learn about it so that I can share the information with you.

I was excited to have a ton of visitors at the Capitol this week and we managed to get photos with a lot of folks!  I loved having the chance to visit with students and a great variety of professionals. I want to thank everyone who comes up to advocate on the issues they care about.  It really does make a difference to hear your voices!  

To wrap up this week, I have some important information to share. Starting March 1, I will be moving my office hours to every Friday from 9:00 - 10:30 am at Main Street Café in Ankeny.  Please note this means there will not be any office hours on Monday February 25 of that week.

I will also be hosting another listening post on the morning of Saturday, February 23 from 9:30 - 10:30am at the Ankeny Library. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to come and speak with me at these events or shoot me an email, I would love to hear from you!  


Representative Matson speaks with constituent and Iowa Chiropractic Society member Brett Renze in the Capitol on Wednesday, January 13, 2019. They spoke about the opioid epidemic and how chiropractic care is recognized as a safer option for pain management.


Representative Matson gives Otto Krueger and Aaron Martin a tour of the House Chamber on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. They spoke at length about the chiropractic community in Ankeny and Representative Matson was delighted to get a picture with them at the Speaker’s Chair.


Representative Matson meets constituent Marcus Miller at an event in Ankeny on Friday, February 8, 2019. Rep. Matson met Marcus’ father while knocking doors over the summer and remembered the house and day after speaking with Marcus and was so happy to have met him.


Representative Matson visits with Clifford the Big Red Dog at Iowa Public Television's reception in the Capitol on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Representative Matson’s two kids adore Clifford and she was excited to get a picture with him and celebrate IPTV’s 50th year of educating and entertaining Iowans.


Representative Matson interacts with different STEM booths at the STEM Advisory Council’s Day on the Hill in the Rotunda on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Representative Matson had fun learning about all the different STEM programs throughout the state.


Representative Matson meets with IPTV Kids’ Club host (and constituent!) Dan Wardell during the IPTV Day on the Hill on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. They spoke at length about how much her kids’ loved his programs both on television and out at events in the community.



Representative Heather Matson speaks with Broadlawns Medical Center’s CEO (and constituent) Jody Jenner, Vice President Vince Mandracchia, and Dr. Nicole Gilg at the Capitol on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Representative Matson has a special affinity for Broadlawns because they provide outstanding care, often to our most vulnerable Iowans, and because her husband has been a family physician there for the last 9 years. Representative Matson is also proud to call Dr. Gilg her primary care doctor and was happy to visit with her at the Capitol.


Representative Matson visits with her constituent Joy Talman in the Rotunda on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Joy was there for United Way of Central Iowa RSVP day at the Capitol. RSVP is the largest volunteer organization in Iowa for people 55 and older and Representative Matson was eager to learn about the program and all the good work they are doing to connect volunteers with community members in need of assistance on everything from education to economic opportunity.


Representative Matson holds a meeting with Sara Sedlacek, Director of External Relations at the Crisis Center at the Capitol on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Representative Matson was thrilled to catch up with a longtime friend and talk more about the Crisis Center.

News from the Statehouse


Schools Get Record Low Funding, Again

This week, there was bi-partisan opposition to the PreK-12 school aid bill that passed the House at 2.06%, which was even lower than what Governor Kim Reynolds proposed.  Democratic lawmakers introduced an alternative plan to boost school funding by 3%, which would cover the cost of inflation and fit into the state budget, but that was rejected.  

Called State Supplemental Aid (SSA), the low increase in school funding doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation for schools.  Over the last decade, only once has SSA been greater than the cost of inflation and it’s been the lowest funding for schools in Iowa history.

With this inadequate funding amount, more schools will be forced to make cuts or even raise property taxes. In fact, the recent tax breaks to the wealthiest Iowans passed last year, will total more than the increase provided to schools. Also, there have been 118 school building closures since 2011, and lack of funding will increase the likelihood of more school closures.  

Some Legislators advocated a recent Department of Education report that cited Iowa’s class size has a 13.5 student/teacher ratio, but that includes all school staff, many that are not in the classroom.  The reality is that teachers will be forced to do more with less and the plan will not reduce class sizes.  When the state short changes Iowa schools, many districts have to raise property taxes to make up the difference.  

The bill was approved by the Senate and now goes to the Governor for approval. The Governor has indicated that she is expected to sign the bill.


STEM Day at the Statehouse; Education Assistance Provided to Schools

Advocates for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education were at the Capitol this week to demonstrate their positive results.  In addition, the STEM Advisory Council has awarded seed funding through the Iowa STEM Innovation Fund to four exemplary programs to scale their STEM efforts across the state.

The STEM Innovation Fund supports statewide STEM programming to develop programs to engage youth in STEM activities and careers.  Some of the programs need access to additional resources in order to expand local programs.

After completing the review process, four awardees were selected by the STEM council out of a pool of 20 applicants based on their innovation, scope of work, evaluation metrics, community collaborations, and financial sustainability. The 2019 Innovation Fund awardees are:

•    Iowa Conservation Education Coalition
•    Iowa Tech Chicks
•    St. Theresa Catholic School
•    University of Iowa Department of Computer Science

For more information about the STEM Innovation Fund, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/innovation-fund.


Read More News from the Statehouse


Injured Veterans Grant Program Expanded    
House Passes School Transportation Funding
Iowa House Bolsters its Ethics Rules to Prevent Harassment
Department of Natural Resources Public Meetings
Master Matrix Process Adopted by 89 Counties
Partisanship Puts the Protection of Iowans in Jeopardy



Contact Representative Heather Matson

MatsonforIowa.com

Capitol
1009 Grand Ave
Iowa House of Representatives
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-281-3221
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1802 SW Prairie Trail Parkway
Ankeny, IA 50023
515-201-1877
 
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