Doll stresses need to make education a priority




A group of about 25 area residents attended State Rep. John Doll's public forum Saturday in the cafeteria of Horace Good Middle School.

The primary focus of the forum was to discuss education, as well as other issues in the current legislative session.

In Doll's opening statement, he gave his stance on school finance, saying the state needs to make funding education a higher priority.

"The people who want to cut this said education takes this much from the budget. What's disturbing to a lot of us, and myself included, is why are we making these tax cuts of what I feel is the most important thing we have as responsibility as a government, as adults, and as a people — to take care of our youth and to take care of the people who can't take care of themselves?" he said.

As of 2014, Doll said, the amount of state-aid per pupil is at $3,812, the lowest it has been in years.

"That's what our job is as a government, and I believe that strongly," Doll said about the importance of making education a budget priority. "When people say 'You're spending over 50 percent of your budget (on education), and I say, 'You spend money on what's important. Education is important.'"

As for non-educational issues, Doll wanted to make sure constituents knew about a new law that replaces vehicle taxes on specified commercial vehicles with fees. The law requires an annual commercial vehicle fee starting Jan. 1, 2014, on any truck or truck tractor registered at a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds and operating as a commercial vehicle.

The annual commercial vehicle fee will range from $150 for a vehicle up to 12,000 pounds and seven years old or older, to $400 for a truck registered at a gross weight of 60,000 pounds or more regardless of age. The fee is in addition to registration fees. Trucks registered with this fee will be eligible for apportioned registration.

Darren Dennis, assistant superintendant of USD 457, attended the forum and said he was most interested in hearing about school finance.

"I think it's a great opportunity for elected officials to interact with their constituents," Dennis said. "There were a lot of questions out there, but we are all learning. Representative Doll has consistently tried to communicate with the public."

Doll stressed the importance of being in the public eye to answer and clear up any questions others may have going forward.

"If I don't listen, then I'm not doing my job. This is what I am supposed to do," he said.

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