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At The Capitol - Senator Randy Feenstra

DES MOINES - The 2012 session is set up to be good for Iowa taxpayers. Both political parties want to promote policy that will help put more Iowans back to work, provide authentic property tax relief, balance the budget without raising taxes, and reform Iowa's rules and regulatory climate.

To create policy that provides these outcomes we must do the following: Create transparency and accountability in all policy plans, pass a balanced budget that does not raise taxes, reduce property taxes for all classes of property and remove barriers for growth through regulation reform.

Education Reform

The governor has laid out an educational blueprint, which will help create world-class schools that prepare our kids to be productive citizens.

Some of these blueprint ideas include:

First, come up with a plan that begins in preschool that helps all students read by the end of third grade.

Secondly, teachers must pass a test demonstrating content-specific and teaching knowledge.

Third, widen the pathways for alternative teacher licensure with quality assurance checks.

Fourth, eliminate requirements around seat time for academic credit to accommodate school districts that choose to adopt a system of competency-based education, which advances students based on their mastery of subjects.

And finally, give school districts greater flexibility to meet state requirements so that public schools can better apply innovative ideas to improve learning.

Budget forecast

Governor Terry Branstad laid out his budget proposal this week. Below are some of the areas where he would like to increase or decrease the budget.

1, Judicial budget increase of $10 million based on a caseload increase of 50 percent.

2, Fully fund the elderly, disabled, and military tax credit.

3, Fill up all cash and emergency reserve funds.

4, Give all kindergarten through 12th-grade school districts a 2 percent increase in allowable growth.

5, Increase the Iowa Tuition Grant program by $2 million.

6, Provide a $4 million increase to community colleges.

And lastly, give a $20 million increase in funding to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

Original Publication Date: January 18, 2012

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