Today may be the last day of the 2001 Iowa Legislature’s regular session. Republican legislators did an about-face yesterday on teacher pay. The G-O-P had said the state couldn’t afford to spend 40-million dollars to raise teacher salaries. House Speaker Brent Siegrist, a republican from Council Bluffs, says they’ve decided, now, to use money tobacco companies are paying the state to raise teacher pay. In addition, Siegrist says they’ll spend a little more on some other areas of the budget, like the Department of Human Services. While he’s done it before, Siegrist insists this is the G-O-P’s final offer.Governor Vilsack calls the republican offer “a positive step” but says he needs to review the details before making a final judgement on it. Late last night, the House endorsed the plan that abolishes the seniority system in Iowa schools, replacing it with a system that links pay to performance in the classroom. Also yesterday, the Governor signed into law the bill that establishes tough new penalties for protestors caught tampering with Ag property, like releasing confined animals or destroying test plots for new kinds of seed. And the Governor signed the bill which gives gas stations a state tax break if over 60 percent of the gas sold is ethanol.
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