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Local News

February 23, 2013

Health care, education the focus of Eggs & Issues

OSKALOOSA — Health care and education were the big topics at the Eggs & Issues legislative forum Saturday morning.

Republican state Sen. Ken Rozenboom and State House Republicans Guy Vander Linden and Larry Sheets fielded a variety of questions from the audience Saturday.

Oskaloosa resident John Uchtman asked the lawmakers their views on Medicaid expansion.

Rozenboom said he’s received a couple hundred emails on the topic. Under Medicaid expansion, the federal government would fund 100 percent of costs for the first three years and then 90 percent.

Can you trust the federal government to honor its commitment? “It’s a tough question,” Rozenboom said. “We often buy into the good answer for the short term.”

However, if 150,000 Iowans are locked into Medicaid for the long term, the funds may not be there.

“We create a dependency,” Rozenboom said. “It’s a tough question.”

“It’s always the money,” Vander Linden said. “When the federal government fails to pay — states get stuck with the bill.

“I just don’t trust them,” he added.

Vander Linden said if Gov. Terry Branstad is satisfied with the expansion and then explains it to lawmakers, then he could support it.

“I don’t think the federal government will have much money in 2015,” Sheets said.

Oskaloosa School Board member Tom Richardson asked the legislators about state funds for education. He said local school boards need to have their budgets done in April, and they need to know how much state aid to count on.

Vander Linden said there are different numbers between the House and Senate versions of allowable growth funds.

“I don’t know where that’s going to go,” he said.

Vander Linden said 2 percent is the “worst case scenario” and school officials should go with that.

Education is the first thing state lawmakers deal with each year because school boards need to know those allowable growth amounts, Vander Linden said.

“I would plan on 2 percent and hope for more,” he said.

The next Eggs & Issues is set for March 9.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com

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