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Iowa Conducts School-Cheating Investigation Behind Closed Doors PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Sheena Dooley   
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 18:17
When cheating happens in the classroom, Iowa’s top education officials are responsible for investigating the allegations and uncovering any wrongdoing.

But the public in Iowa has little insight how state leaders investigate incidents, what material is collected, and the amount of cheating taking place. They also don’t know the extent of staff involvement in the cheating.

And they don’t have any way of knowing that investigations are thorough and fair.

It’s all legitimate under Iowa law.

 
New Tax-Relief Fund Will Receive $60 Million; Questions Surround Use of Fund PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 06 April 2012 12:46

Uncertainty surrounding a newly created $60-million tax-relief fund and few safeguards on how the state taxpayer dollars will be used opens up the potential for misuse, state lawmakers say.

House Ways & Means Chair Tom Sands (R-Wapello) told IowaPolitics.com last month that among 100 Iowa House members, 50 Iowa Senate members and the governor, there are probably 151 different ideas on how to use the $60 million that will go into the Taxpayers Trust Fund this year.

 
Thousands Suffer from Lack of Services as Lawmakers Tackle Mental-Health Reform PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 23 March 2012 08:02

Lawmakers are struggling with how to transform Iowa’s 99-county system for providing mental-health services into a more uniform, statewide network. The underfunded system presently leaves thousands waiting for services.

“Those are the people probably suffering the most right now,” said Margaret Stout, who for 25 years was executive director of Iowa’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a not-for-profit that provides mental-health education, advocacy, and support.

Iowa’s adult-mental-health system provided services to 52,059 people last fiscal year, according to the Iowa State Association of Counties. Underfunding leaves thousands more without needed services. The system has an anticipated $51.4-million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2013, according to the state’s Legislative Services Agency.

 
Field of Dreams Bill Puts Iowa on “Dangerous Road,” Key Lawmaker Says PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 08:47

The chair of one of Iowa’s powerful tax-writing committees said March 19 that allowing certain local projects to keep their own sales-tax revenue – rather than sending the money to the state – is a slippery slope.

“I think it’s a very dangerous road to go down,” Iowa House Ways & Means Chair Tom Sands (R-Wapello), told IowaPolitics.com. “The state started down that road just a little bit with the racetrack, and now, here are two other proposals that are coming off of that. So the next question is: Where will this end?”

In 2005, lawmakers and the governor first used this economic-development tool to bring NASCAR to Iowa. Then-Governor Tom Vilsack signed a law that paved the way for construction of the Iowa Speedway in Newton by allowing the racetrack to keep $12.5 million of its own future sales-tax revenue.

An Iowa policy group warned then that the Newton project would encourage other cities to seek similar subsidies from state funds. The group, it appears, was right.

 
Supreme Court Ruling Could Spur 200-Plus Layoffs, Close All Workforce Development Offices PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 08:31

The Iowa Supreme Court on March 16 said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s item-veto of a bill intended to keep Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) field offices open was unconstitutional.

“Simply stated, the legislature appropriated funds to IWD with strings attached, and our constitution does not permit the governor to cut the strings and spend the money differently,” said the opinion authored by Justice Thomas Waterman, who was appointed by Branstad in February 2011.

However, it does not appear that the ruling would lead to the re-opening of the 36 field offices, which helped unemployed Iowans find jobs, write résumés, and prepare for interviews.

 
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