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Resolution of support for fine arts will be in vain without adequate school funding

Published: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 11:34 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2014 1:10 p.m. CDT

We had a special visitor at the Capitol this week.  Iowa native Simon Estes sang the opening prayer and delivered the pledge Wednesday morning in the House Chamber.  He encouraged lawmakers to keep music and art education programs in K-12 schools.  We then unanimously passed a resolution showing support for fine arts education.

I’m glad this resolution passed, however, our efforts will be in vain if we do not provide adequate funding for our schools.  When school budgets are tight, arts and music are often the first cuts considered.

I’ve joined fellow House and Senate Democrats in offering a 6-percent increase in basic state aid for schools for the 2015-16 school year.  By law, the school aid rate must be set by the Legislature by February 13th.  Currently, Iowa is $1,500 below the national average of funding per student.

Over the last few weeks, a perfect storm of short supply, bitter cold, and infrastructure issues sent the cost of propane to record highs.  It’s troubling for thousands of Iowans, mostly in rural areas, who use propane to heat their homes.  Instead of paying $1,000 to fill up their propane tanks, the cost has risen to more than $2,500 in some cases.

This week, I co-sponsored a bill to provide $1 million in emergency funds to help low-income families who use propane keep the heat on this winter.  The emergency funds would go to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and would be available in every county through local community action agencies. 

For more information, visit www.iowacommunityaction.org.

Environmental leaders from throughout the state visited the Capitol this week. Among them were members of our local Jasper County Soil and Water Conservation Board. 

They provide leadership in protecting the soil and ensuring clean water.  Their work is important to all of us, including, but not exclusive to, farmers. We should all be proud and appreciative of their efforts.

Jasper and 20 other county offices are challenged by sharing a secretary with at least one other county.  This is especially burdensome for the Jasper board because they share with Polk County. 

The secretaries should be called ‘office managers.’ They provide essential assistance to farmers in completing water-management projects while keeping the board and office operating efficiently and effectively. 

I have offered legislation to provide this much needed support.

I am proud to represent Newton, Baxter, Colfax, Kellogg, Lambs Grove, Mingo, Ira, Prairie City, and Valeria.  Feel free to contact me anytime via phone at (641) 521-9260 or by email at dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov. Please visit my website at www.electkelley.com. And of course, on Facebook, I look forward to accepting your friend request.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

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