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Week 5: School Funding, Mid-Year Budget Cuts, Pet Protections

February 9, 2018


Facebook Live Recap Week 5






Iowa’s route to a high-skill, high-wage economy depends on great local schools that prepare students for work and life. Iowans have traditionally placed a high value on quality public schools for our kids.


Unfortunately, the Senate Republican proposal for K-12 funding will reduce opportunities again this year. SF 2164 increases state funding for local schools by 1 percent for the 2018-19 school year. The bill was approved by the full Senate February 7 on a 29-21 vote. I voted “no.”


When you take into account inflation, per-student funding increased by only $33 between 2008 and 2015. That’s far less than the figure quoted by Governor Reynolds, who cites selective funding numbers that don’t paint a complete picture. In fact, funding has increased seven-tenths of 1 percent per year for seven years. 


Iowa ranks 34th for percent of funds spent on K-12 in FY17, according to a National Association of State Budget Officers report.


Nearly 200 school board members, superintendents and Parents for Great Iowa Schools advocated for our kids’ education January 30 at the Statehouse. They said that they need a timely decision on state funding to plan and budget properly, and that they wish we’d provide more than what is in the Senate bill so that they can address local goals and needs.


They tell me that schools increasingly can provide only the bare minimum with the funding they’re getting. That’s why I voted against SF 2164 and another round of inadequate funding for our public schools.


Here is what districts in our area would get in basic school funding under the bill:



February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, a time to recognize how much these programs do to prepare students for high-skill, in-demand careers with good salaries. 


CTE combines classroom learning, certification programs and work-based experience for a variety of fields: agriculture, food and natural resources; arts, communications and information systems; applied sciences, technology and engineering; and manufacturing, construction and health sciences.


Iowa recently modernized its Career and Technical Education programs to ensure high-quality training opportunities that allow students to move quickly from school to work. Career pathways help them gain the academic, technical and practical skills they need for true career readiness. They get meaningful experience, which helps them choose the line of work that’s right for them.  


By 2025, 68 percent of Iowa jobs will require education or training beyond high school. Iowa will need an additional 127,700 workers with a two- or four-year college degree or postsecondary credential. Currently, only 58 percent of Iowans ages 25 to 64 meet that standard. 


Regional work-based learning intermediary networks—partnerships between high schools and community colleges—play a big role in expanding career learning opportunities for Iowa students. The funding the Legislature puts toward this effort is a great investment.


They connect business and education to build relationships between employers and local youth, and coordinate internships, job shadowing experiences and other workplace learning options for students.


To learn more about CTE opportunities for student and businesses in our area, visit DMACC’s Career Discovery Network.

 As part of the National Salute to Veteran Patients Week celebration, Veterans Affairs Central Iowa Health Care System in Des Moines is hosting a “coffee and chat” on Monday, February 12. The informal event is a chance for veterans and their guests to meet with senior leadership. Drop by anytime between 10 a.m. and 12 noon in the main campus lobby, 3600 30th Street.



Amerigroup Iowa, one of the two private companies that run Iowa Medicaid, says it will begin accepting new Medicaid members.


That means the 10,000 members who chose Amerigroup Iowa before November 16, 2017, but were temporarily transitioned to fee-for-service coverage under the state, will be moved to Amerigroup Iowa on March 1. They will receive more information from Amerigroup in the mail.


New Medicaid members whose coverage begins on or after May 1 can choose Amerigroup Iowa or United Healthcare. They will receive enrollment packets in the mail with details on how to select their Managed Care Organization.


About one-third of Medicaid members will not be able to change MCOs anytime soon. About 200,000 members assigned to United Healthcare without choice last fall must remain with United until their next annual change period. To switch before then, they must show “good cause,” such as:

  • Their health care provider is not in their MCO network.

  • Necessary services are not available within the MCO network.

  • The MCO has provided poor-quality care.

  • They haven’t been able to get services that are supposed to be covered.

To request a change for good cause, contact United Healthcare Member Services at 800-464-9484 or Amerigroup Member Services at 800-600-4441. You must go through the MCO grievance process, which can take 30 to 45 days. 


If your grievance is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may call Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 800-338-8366 for additional assistance. The final decision on your MCO assignment will be made by the Iowa Department of Human Services.