The Iowa House and Senate today approved a four-percent budget increase for Iowa schools for the 2001-2002 school year. Senator Jack Rife, a republican from Durant, was one of only two votes in both houses against the increase. Rife says he’s not opposed to more money for schools, but is worried about the legislature’s ability to balance the budget.Senator Rife believes other republicans are afraid to vote against the increase in an election year. Senator Bill Fink, a democrat from Carlisle, is a high school government teacher. He spoke for the increase, saying the job is getting tougher with fewer supplies, older technology and a smaller salary than other jobs.Fink says he now wants the legislature to increase teacher salaries to avoid loosing more teachers to other states and better paying jobs.House Speaker Brent Siegriest agrees that teacher salaries need to be increased. But, Siegriest says that may be a year away.Siegrist is a republican and a former high school government teacher from Council Bluffs. Siegrist says the four-percent funding increase will help districts raise salaries until a new compensation structure can be worked out.
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