It’s time to set the record straight.
In the Times' Sunday editorial on equity in school funding, you repeated a charge that you’ve brought up before about my support of per-pupil funding equity. Let me be very clear for you: I firmly believe that we need to address inequities in school funding that disadvantage our Quad-City schools. In fact, I filed a bill last year which addressed the funding inequities and was co-signed by Reps. Thede and Kurth. Since 2015, I have filed at least six bills, as well as a number of amendments, all of which aimed for the same thing. None of these efforts got past the majority party in the House, but that’s not for lack of trying on my part. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that I’m an educator by vocation. I believe strongly that giving our children the best education possible is one of the primary responsibilities of our state government. It really doesn’t make sense that I would fail to support legislation that actually furthers that goal.
In spite of my record, however, you continue to assert that I have been less than active in seeking a fix for the issue and that I opposed the 10-year fix proposed by the Senate last year. The first time you suggested that I didn’t support an equity fix, you gave me a “C” grade as a legislator for not supporting the Senate proposal. I chose to ignore that, feeling that those who know me would recognize the inaccuracy. Now, however, you assert that I “blasted” the bill. I may well have voiced the concern that the bill did not do enough, soon enough, or compared $5 per student to the hundreds of millions of dollars for large, out-of-state corporations. Is that “blasting” or pointing out a difference in priorities? I have not had the opportunity to vote on the bill because the majority party has never brought it to the floor for a vote, so you have no reason to assume that I opposed it in principle.
I’m writing to correct the record now because the false impression about my disregard for school funding inequities seems to have taken on a life of its own. Over this past weekend, I was asked about it in an interview by Channel 4. That was followed by Sunday's editorial, which stated that I “blasted” the Senate bill.
It’s past time to put this issue to rest. I firmly believe we need to address inequities in school funding and I do and will support any bill which provides a feasible, long-term solution. If I voice criticism, it’s because my experience and knowledge lead me to the conclusion that the bill is flawed and needs to be discussed and possibly amended. As a legislator, that’s my job. I’m sure there will be issues we disagree on over time, but I’d really like to put this one behind us.