KIMT News 3 – A debate held Monday night by KGLO Radio in Mason City featured incumbent Republican State Rep. Tedd Gassman and his opposing Democratic candidate Dave Grussings.
The hourlong debate was broken in to several different questions and lasted over an hour.
Gassman is the vice chair of the Education Committee. The candidates did spend time challenging each other’s views on how to fund education. When asked about the state of how education is being funded, Gassman said we do not need to revise the whole process, but believes transportation is an area that needs improvement.
“In the district that I represent, there are a lot of square miles that the buses need to travel to get the kids to school,” Gassman says. “We need to do something about this because it is taking money right out of the classrooms.”
Grussing agreed education is an issue, but even so, the schools are still underfunded.
“I think at some point you are going to have to look at the funding formula,” he says. “One thing every school in District 7 is facing right now is declining enrollment, and that is how the state bases the funding.”
Gassman says in his time as the representative of the district, they have already made changes including easing the restrictions on how funds can be used through the Teachers Mentoring Program. This puts dollars in specific school funds and only allows schools to use it for those funds.
“We have lifted some of the restrictions on schools,” he says. “For example, they can now use funds in the Physical Flat Utility Levee for major bus repairs.”
Gussing says while that is a good start, more needs to be done.
“I have spoken to a lot of superintendents and they all have the students in their best interest,” Gussing says. “I think we need to lift those restrictions even more so they can use the funds the way they see fit.”
The topic of water quality is going to be a big issue in the upcoming legislative session. The candidates voiced their opinions on the issue discussing 2010 3/8% sales tax, which would go into a fund used for water quality and conservation efforts.
“The biggest issue I see with water quality is that we need a dependable sustainable revenue system,” says Gussing. “There are a lot of things we can do to mitigate runoff and polluting Iowa’s waterways. I voted in 2010 for the sales tax and 90 percent of voters supported it.”
Gassman disagreed with the statement, saying that the bill did not call for a sales tax and that is not what the people voted on.
Health care in the state of Iowa was privatized early this year and has been a hot button issue throughout the state. Grossing brought up a past forum calling out three candidates for moving too quickly on the issue while Gassman blames the Obama Administration.
“We want to help everyone and we really want to make this (Medicaid and Medicare) work,” Gassman says. “I believe, with time, we will get there.”
“I believe the Medicaid situation is an unorganized disaster,” says Grussing. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions and I don’t think folks should have to call their representatives for the answer.”
Another topic brought up was if organizations like Planned Parenthood should be funded by the state.
“I don’t think they deserve funding because of the reputation they have,” says Gassman. “We all know what they have been doing over the last one to two years.”
Grussing opposed the comments, saying the state should fund.
“The taxpayer money does not go towards abortion, which is one of the biggest hot button issues,” Grussing says. “They provide health care and assistance, especially to the rural areas.”
The candidates also voiced their opinions on gay rights. Gassman opposed the Supreme Rights decision and says Iowa law should mean more than the decisions of appointed judges.
“The law in the state of Iowa still says that marriage should be between a natural male and a natural female,” says Gassman. “The Supreme Court has changed that, but that is not law as far as I’m concerned.”
Grussing says the Supreme Court has changed the law.