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Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 24, 2018

Miller gives first floor speech

By Phil Miller | Feb 15, 2018
Photo by: PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL MILLER Representative Phil Miller meets with folks from 1st Credit Union, Marian Holmes of Albia and Greg Hanshaw of Fairfield, at the Statehouse last week.

Hi everyone back in House District 82!

As I write, Week 5 is coming to an end at the Capitol in Des Moines. It is snowing outside and probably will be as I drive home tonight [Feb. 9] after a late afternoon Transportation Committee meeting. We are considering House File 513, it is about safe operation of bicycles on our roads. I will be voting yes to pass this out of committee. Also to be discussed today is House File 2248 about transporting or operating newly manufactured aircraft.

Earlier today, I voted yes on an amendment to the State Supplemental Aid Bill, House File 2230. It would have directed $11 million dollars towards school transportation equity. The amendment failed. I gave my first floor speech on Wednesday, supporting 3 percent growth, new money to public schools. I told my fellow representatives about the continued financial stress our rural school districts experience. Three percent new money would help keep our education standards where we want them.

The House Majority decided 1 percent was all the state could afford. I disagree. State revenue is projected to go up 4 percent in fiscal year 2019. We need to change priorities.

I continue to work very hard for you, lots of reading and studying of the bills that are brought to my committees and subcommittees. I have told you before when I vote it’s not as a Democrat or as a Republican, but as somebody who has lived his entire life in southeast Iowa. I will always do what is right for the citizens of my district.


Record low funding for public schools again

With another year of low funding on the way for public schools, students in K-12 schools will likely see higher class sizes and fewer opportunities next year.

Because Republican lawmakers have mismanaged the state budget and handed out hundreds of millions in corporate tax giveaways, they approved a public school funding plan this week that won’t even keep up with rising costs in schools next year.

At the same time the Majority Party was approving the plan to underfund public schools, new data was released that found 105 public school buildings have closed their doors over the last several years. Iowans already know that closing public schools is not the best approach to improving public education.

When adjusted for inflation, public schools have received just a $33 per student increase over eight years, which is less than 1 percent each year. Iowa’s per pupil funding is now $1,111 below the national average.

Some lawmakers offered a fiscally responsible alternative to prioritize public school funding and avoid shortchanging public schools, but it was rejected on a party line vote.

The Iowa Senate also debated the bill this week. It now goes to the Governor.


Amerigroup now taking new Medicaid members

Amerigroup, one of the two remaining MCOs (Managed Care Organizations) involved in the privatization of Medicaid in Iowa, announced last week they would begin taking new members.

In October 2017, AmeriHealth Caritas, one of the three original MCOs, declared they were leaving the state due to financial losses. This left only Amerigroup and UnitedHealthCare as the remaining organizations. In the next month, Amerigroup announced it would not accept any more patients, further reducing member choice to just UnitedHealthCare.

This was especially problematic given that it is against federal regulations to only have one option available to members, and the Governor stated the move to Medicaid privatization would result in more choice for Iowans on Medicaid.

Those members who initially selected Amerigroup and were transitioned back to fee-for-service, will now be assigned to Amerigroup effective March 1. New Medicaid members can begin to choose Amerigroup on May 1.

— Phil Miller serves District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes all of Davis and Van Buren counties, and most of Jefferson County.

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