The 2001 Iowa Legislature’s adjourning today, and republican lawmakers are hailing passage of the plan which revamps the way Iowa school teachers will be paid. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says that new policy’s more important than the money lawmakers spent to raise teacher salaries.Rants says the budget plan for next year is about 22-million dollars more than this year’s. He says the budget lives within their means, which he says is a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats.Rants says his biggest disappointment is that a bill making it easier for utilities to build power plants couldn’t clear the Senate. He says property tax relief is another issue left undone.House Speaker Brent Siegrist, a republican from Council Bluffs,says lawmakers have passed a law that’ll dramatically change the teaching profession.It’ll cost up to 300-million dollars a year to accomplish the ultimate goals of the teacher pay plan, but lawmakers only plugged 40-million dollars into the system this year. Siegrist says it wasn’t easy to find a way to pay teachers more. He says “the thing we did best was fiscal responsibility.”Siegrist says the state budget grew by just under half a percent. Siegrist says, “the public reaction has been very good, absent some union teachers that have bashed us incessantly.”Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says his biggest disappointment is that the legislature was unable to pass the bill which eased state regulations which govern where and how utilities may build and pay for new power plants.Next year’s state budget plan is just 22-million more than the present year’s — and Iverson says that’s the smallest rate of growth in his lifetime.Democrats give the work product a failing grade. House Democrat Leader Dick Myers of Iowa City. He says he wishes it was a different season so he could say “bah humbug.” Myers agrees that the hallmark of the session was the decision to spend 40-million dollars to begin the process of hiking teacher pay, and tying compensation to performance rather than seniority. He says it was a victory for the governor’s program.Myers says Republicans didn’t have a good plan for responding to the state’s budget crisis. He says they stumbled their way through it and the best news is they’re at the end.Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says Iowans didn’t gain much from the work legislators did the past four months. He says it was “the most political and least productive session in his 19 years in the legislature.”Gronstal says it’s the worst education session in 20 years, with the exception of raising teacher pay.
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