Beall says he’s disappointed in governor’s plans

The education and tax proposals Gov. Terry Branstad outlined in his Condition of the State Address Tuesday were mostly disappointing in the opinion of state Sen. Daryl Beall.

The Democrat from Fort Dodge said the total education investment proposed by Branstad is less than what is being spent now. He added that the governor’s proposals fail to increase access to affordable health care for many people.

Beall said he did agree with Branstad’s optimistic outlook on Iowa’s economy.

”Overall, I thought the governor’s message was lackluster,” Beall said. ”His message was lacking and his delivery was poor.”

Early in every legislative session, Iowa lawmakers set an allowable growth figure that determines how much additional money public school districts will have. But according to Beall, Branstad is recommending that no action be taken on allowable growth until the Legislature has passed his education reform proposals.

”By law, we must let schools know what the allowable growth numbers are within 30 days of convening the legislature,” Beall said. ”But by taking action on allowable growth only after

we approve his education reform plan means needless delays to school districts and potential pink slips to teachers because schools cannot risk anticipating more new dollars than may be ultimately approved.”

”This is unfair to our local schools and unfortunately holds students hostage,” he added.

The senator said he supports the governor’s plan to raise the average teacher salary to $35,000. He added that he will consider Branstad’s plan for new teacher leadership roles.

While Beall said he agrees with Branstad’s assertion that commercial property taxes are too high, he said that he doubts legislative Democrats and the Republican governor are any closer to resolving the issue than they were last year.

Beall said he believes revenue for local governments must be protected in any commercial property tax reform. He added that he will resist proposals that would shift the tax burden from commercial to residential property owners.

State Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone; and state representatives Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge; Tom Shaw, R-Laurens, and Rob Bacon, R-Slater; did not respond to requests for comment on the governor’s address.