Beall, Behn differ on ed aid

The two state senators representing Webster County split along party lines during Thursday’s Senate vote to establish the 4 percent allowable growth rate for school aid in fiscal year 2015.

State Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, voted for the increase, calling it ”reasonable and realistic.”

”School districts must know how much they have to work with,” he said.

State Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone, voted against the increase, saying lawmakers should reform the education system before investing any more money in it.

”We need to focus on getting to the root of the problems before we decide to increase funding,” he said. ”It is unfortunate that the Senate majority party felt the need to hastily push this legislation through the legislative process. Making this decision without any measurable reform continues to increase funding for a system in need of change.”

Gov. Terry Branstad has asked legislators to pass his education reform package before acting on the allowable growth rate.

Last month, the Senate passed a 4 percent increase in allowable growth for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has not acted on that issue yet. Beall said school districts will begin laying off teachers if the House doesn’t act on the allowable growth bills soon.

”That’s not fair to our local schools and is especially unfair to our kids,” he said.