Legislators wrap up forums
A crowd showed during the fourth and final Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Forum of the season held at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Fairfield Public Library.
After salutations from three local legislators, who were Rep. Curt Hanson (D-Fairfield), Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Mt. Pleasant), and Sen. Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa), audience members posed questions addressing an array of both state and local issues.
Sen. Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) who attended the other three forums was absent Saturday.
Richard Beall, headmaster of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, asked the lawmakers their expectations of when Gov. Terry Branstad might make his transition as the U.S. Ambassador to China.
“I think there are a lot of unknowns,” Hanson responded, adding that he thought the transition would be a smooth one.
However, as far as Iowa’s economy was concerned, Hanson said it would be a very big transition for any governor to take over.
“[The state] doesn’t have the income that we expected,” he said, explaining that in the past the Democrats used money from the state’s gambling revenue, but only those who chose to gamble had to pay for it.
“Now, we’re using the ‘rainy-day’ fund,” he said, commenting that its use is like a family using credit cards or its savings account to pay for daily expenses, which is not sustainable.
Sen. Chelgren chimed in, and said that through her work ethic and all that she had learned in her current role, that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds had “earned” the job of governor.
Another audience member asked why funding for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture would be cut when it provided “practical, science-based solutions for farmers.”
He went on to say that he thought that the measure was “ridiculous,” especially since their research was science-based and helped “maintain our environment.” He later added that the state had also gone from 100 to 700 impaired waterways.
Heaton said that he recently received an email on the matter, and had discovered some of the things the organization had been working on, such as nutrient reduction.
Chelgren said he planned to do more research on similar organizations that might pick up on the duties that the Leopold Center had been doing.
Hanson said he was disappointed to see that the center’s funding would be cut. He compared the cut to the Leopold Center in the wake of environmental problems, to a private company with low sales cutting its own advertising.
“When it’s going down, you need to sell your product,” Hanson said.
The Ledger will have more on this story in Tuesday’s edition.