Into the Weeds for the Governor

State budgets are complex.  I have spent a fair amount of time in recent months trying to study what I can about Iowa’s budget.  I have learned something; state budgets are complex.  The good news is that there are resources available to dig through it and learn some things.  A quick google search of the terms “terry branstad world class education” turns up 5,490 hits.  He likes to talk about “world-class” schools in Iowa.  He has even fancied himself the “education governor.”  Let’s just take a look at how we got to the place where the Governor vetoed $56 million dollars in educational spending yesterday (July 2, 2015).

We have to go back to 2013 to understand some of why we are where we are at today.  Republican legislators liked to talk this legislative session about the “apple” that is the state budget.  They like to tell us that education “gets the first bite of the apple,” and they seem a little cranky about it.  Those interested in public education would be happy to get the first bite of a healthy sized “apple,” but that’s not what we get.  In 2013 Republican legislators passed a $278 million tax cut for commercial property taxes.  The “apple” suddenly got $278 million dollars smaller so that we could cut property taxes for businesses.  It is estimated that 11% of that tax cut may end up in the pockets of individual Iowans.  When Republican legislators tell us that “we can’t spend more than we have,” it is important to note that in 2013 they chose to reduce the amount of money available.  So, even as the state’s revenues increase at a rate around 5% per year over the last two years very little of that 5% is available to allow support for schools, mental health facilities, clean water, etc. to keep up.

During the 2014-2015 legislative session Iowa’s legislators approved the Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation program.  By way of full disclosure, I support this initiative and served as a Lead Teacher during the 2014-2015 school year.  During the 2015-2016 school year I will serve full-time as the facilitator for the TLC grant in the Johnston Schools.  It is a good program.  It brings teachers together to impact student achievement through implementing best practice teaching strategies with fidelity across the state of Iowa.  Here is the thing though, the Governor’s own task force, who he charged to be stewards of this ground-breaking legislation, have told him clearly that the money needed to operate the TLC program should not come at the expense of Supplemental State Aid (SSA).  In their own words, “The Teacher Leadership funding…should not detract from the resources provided to schools to meet the basic services to our students.”  Further your own Task Force said, “We would be remiss in our responsibilities if we did not call upon you to provide full support for basic funding through Supplemental State Aid.”  Instead, the Governor and Republican legislators rolled TLC money into the SSA, meaning that schools got less money for basic student services.

On January 13, 2015 the Governor gave his Condition of the State address.  In that address the Governor touted the teacher leadership program and advocated for his bullying bill.  The budget that came along with that address called for a 1.25% increase in SSA.  I won’t spend much time on the failed bullying bill other than to say that, while Republican legislators are quick to blame the “teacher union” lobby for greedily asking for salaries that keep up with inflation, the Governor’s office hasn’t attacked the lobbies who fought against the bullying bill.  I encourage interested citizens to ask why the governor’s bullying bill died in the legislature.  So, by law, the state legislature has 30 days to act on the budget that the Governor presents to them.  Legislative Democrats proposed a 6% increase to SSA, which they quickly reduced to 4% after looking at budget realities. It is important to point out that Iowa has a $700 million budget surplus set aside for “rainy days,” and that Iowa’s revenues continue to grow at around 5%.  It is also notable that the Governor asked for a 9% increase to his own budget.  Eventually legislative Democrats reduced their proposal to an increase in SSA of 2.625%.  Republican legislators, who hadn’t compromised an inch, accused Democrats of using “used car salesman” tactics to negotiate.  They really did that.  113 days later than law required, legislators passed a bill that increased SSA 1.25% (with TLC included in that amount).  In addition they voted to provide schools with $56 million dollars in one time money to purchase books, instruments, art supplies, technology, and other resources to try to keep up with inflation.  Where was the Governor between January 13th through June 2nd?  During that time every school district in Iowa weighed in with the opinion that 1.25% for SSA was inadequate to maintain current programming in Iowa’s schools.  In addition the Governor took his only real action that impacted Iowa’s schools by listening to the State Fair Board and the tourism lobby and insisted that schools not be able to select their own start dates.

That bill sat on the Governor’s desk for 27 days.  He chose late in the afternoon of July 2nd to veto the $56 million dollars in one time money that legislators negotiated.  He chose to announce the veto at the last possible moment prior to a three day holiday weekend.  He made this political calculation in attempt to do “damage control.”  It was his hope that Iowans would not be paying attention to legislation at the start of a holiday weekend.  It was a calculated political decision that came 140 days after the law requires the state to set funding for schools. It came a full day after school’s had to begin their fiscal year.  How were/are schools supposed to operate under these types of conditions?

What are the ramifications of the politicization of education in Iowa this year?  I can list a few.

1) The percent of funding for school districts coming from the State General Fund appropriations has decreased from 45.7% in FY11 to 40.9% in FY16.

2) School districts across Iowa had to certify budgets in April and had no idea at what level they would be funded.  Approximately 1000 teaching positions have been lost due to the inadequate state budget and the delay in getting the budget signed into law.

3) Democratic legislators got bamboozled.  They were duped by the Governor and Republican legislators.  Republican legislators talked about their precious “apple” and how lucky we were to get any of it (especially that all important first bite).  In a divided legislature Republicans didn’t move an inch from the 1.25% increase to SSA.  Thousands of Iowans pleaded with them to compromise.  113 days into violating the law they passed SSA with a 1.25% increase and offered schools $56 in one time money (that the state has available).  But, wait, after months of negotiating, the absent Governor steps in minutes before a 3 day holiday weekend begins and vetoes the one time money.  Why would a Democratic legislator possibly work with this Governor ever again?  If he wanted to play a role in school funding legislation he should have had his mustache up on Capitol Hill and acted like a leader.

4) Iowans are angry.  Our legislators are failing us.  Most importantly they are failing our young people.  By failing to reasonably negotiate over school funding our legislators have failed us.  For better or worse we have a Democratically controlled Senate and a Republican controlled House.  It is their responsibility to lead together.  Iowans won’t forget.

5) Iowans are done hearing about from Governor Branstad about how he is the “education” Governor (I swear I have never heard anyone outside of his office refer to him that way).  It’s just not accurate Mr. Governor.  The Governor proposed to help prevent bullying in Iowa Schools, but he couldn’t get his own party to side with him.  He talks about STEM education and yet he provides no resources to implement more STEM programs across the state.  He talks and and he talks and he talks.  He does nothing.  His sole educational initiative this year was to deny school districts the ability to set their own starting dates.  Why?  Because business and tourism interests told him to.  That’s our “education” Governor.

So, now what?  I still hope that the Governor will engage intelligent people in a dialogue about Iowa’s schools.  It is my suspicion that the Governor wants to crush teacher’s unions.  It is my suspicion that the Governor wants more school privatization and more charter schools.  Well, I’m not sure I suppose that the Governor wants these things as much as the Governor’s wealthy donors want these things, but that probably doesn’t matter.  What matters is that we all lay our agendas out on the table and have a conversation.  It isn’t bad to want charter schools, it just hasn’t proven to be effective.  I do think it is bad to want to crush teacher’s unions, but it’s a viewpoint that needs to be exposed if i exists among our legislators.  Say it.  My agenda is pretty simple.  Schools can get better.  It will take study, conversations, and yes resources.  Simply starving our public schools won’t make our schools better.  I want schools to engage in innovative practices that change what it means to be a learner in Iowa.  The boxes that kidst fill in on standardized tests don’t tell us very much.  A high school diploma shouldn’t mean the same thing now that it mean in 1986 (when I graduated).  A high school diploma should be a demonstration that young people are creative problem-solvers.  These are the things that teaches talk about every day.  Our schools can get better, but they won’t get better in a state where legislators don’t follow the law on school funding.  Our schools won’t get better in a state where our Governor, instead of engaging in a dialogue about what learning could look like in Iowa, cowardly vetoes school spending when he thinks no one will be watching.

Iowans are watching.  We are watching carefully.  We want to talk about more than just education spending.  We actually want to talk about education.  After we have that conversation (where everyone is honest about their agendas) we can then talk about what it will cost.  It won’t be free.  But, it is a conversation that we need to have.  I said yesterday that this veto and the way he did it will be his legacy.  I believe that.  What else do you remember about Governor’s Branstad’s term?  Not much.  He has an opportunity to change that legacy.  If he were to start a great honest conversation about what it would would make Iowa’s schools great he could create a legacy that he could be proud of.  That conversation has to happen with or without him, but at some point Iowa’s legislators have to actually walk the walk instead of just talking about apples.



  1. I’ve read a few of your blogs since as they were attached to facebook friends that are educators. I like a lot of what you write, but perhaps we can move the dialogue forward if we can look at both sides of the equation. Your writing advocates more from taxpayers. We read your thoughts about the value of more money but isn’t there another side of the equation that we can also look at? Can’t we work with the teaching professionals to find areas where we can save some cash? Can we look at the growth in not-instructional administrators in the last two decades? I agree with the idea of not using “one-time” money for education as it doesn’t provide a long-term solution. Ongoing expenses should be paid from taxes not one-time money that has to be argued about every year. The reality is that there we now have fewer and fewer people working and more and more people deciding that sitting on the sidelines is easier for them. I want education to be the best thing about living in Iowa…but I don’t see the connection between more money and better education. Unfortunately education doesn’t exist in a vacuum…it is just one piece of the tax puzzle that Iowans are facing. I live in Waterloo and the mandatory fees and taxes that the City, County and Schools have laid at the fees of my friends and neighbors are not inconsequential. What education fans need to figure out is that they need to help us lower other areas of our tax obligations if they want to see a bigger piece of the pie. I have yet to see a single teacher or administrator working with the citizens to lower the city budget. Any education professional that isn’t fighting TIF’s tooth and nail may not deserve any more of the money I use to pay my own bills and save for my own non-IPERs retirement.

    • I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Teachers spend considerable time discussing how to do things more cost effectively. I oversaw a band program that tripled in size over 15 years and operated under roughly same budget that entire time. I would argue this Governor has chosen to decrease taxes for large businesses and the wealthy. I suspect I won’t be able to give an answer that you will satisfy you. If you are happy with our Governor’s priorities then I suggest you continue to vote for him and his Republican colleagues. If you are hoping for this blog space to become a source of apologizing for what it costs to educate Iowa’s kids you will likely be disappointed. If there are people who have ideas on HOW to make our schools world-class for less money AND willing to step up and do it they are welcome to jump into the conversation.

  2. Mr. Kearny, you don’t know me and you ascribe some things to me that are not accurate. As a parent that paid for both private and public education for multiple children, I have a vested interest in helping figure out ways to control all spending, including educational spending. Perhaps it will help change your negative view of me if I let you know I spend my day off helping an a child, that is not one of my own, complete his Eagle Scout project that will directly help out the local public high school band program. I’ve taken on the local education administration because they think it’s appropriate to use the parking lot the taxpayers gave them as a de facto fundraiser for the building. I see a “almost” new set of marching band uniforms on the field every Fall that happened because I took the time to work through funding options with the principal. As I tried to clearly articulate…perhaps one possible funding source for education is to lessen the other taxpayer obligations. Have you looked at the disastrous effect that Tax Incremental Financing districts (TIF’s) have on city budgets? It’s easy to advocate for a bigger piece of pie for “you”….but the pie has inelastic properties so if we give more to improve education, whose piece of the pie gets smaller and what are the teachers doing to help cut the pie differently?

    • My apologies if I ascribed anything to you. I am certainly not an expert on tax policy and I need to do more research about TIF’s. While it is certainly “easy” to advocate for a bigger slice of the pie, it is where my priorities lay. I believe that by not creating more tax cuts for big business and wealthy Iowans the pie could be larger. The decision to shrink the pie is among my concerns. Some will always believe that they are being overtaxed and that is certainly a valid opinion. I applaud you for finding ways to support your local band and scouting programs.

    • Sir, well over 90% of the children I worked with last year qualified for free or reduced lunch. Half were learning English as a second language. Who has given you the misguided notion that educating children of poverty would be inexpensive? Most districts are on a ‘bare bones’ budgets as it is. It takes additional teachers to provide (by law now) interventions for students reading below grade level in grades k-3 ~ or the threat of retention looms. Keeping students in 3rd grade without trained early intervention teachers (yes dollars) to support such an initiative will inevitably cost millions, when time and time again, research proves retention ineffective.

  3. Mr. Kearney – I have also read your blogs in the past and your recent blog was an interesting read. First of all, you mentioned several times the timing of the governor’s veto – one day before a holiday weekend. I know your theory has been mentioned time and time again, for both parties, so I am not sure whether it is really true or not in this case. Not saying it wasn’t intentional, but I don’t think you or I can prove it was. One of your main themes is the pie and how much of that pie education gets. I don’t have the FY ’16 budget in front of me so I can’t speak to that. In looking at the FY ’15 budget, education got 55%, or $3.8 billion of that pie. It appears that you are very knowledgeable about the education system in Iowa (I am not saying that in a condescending way – based on the information you provided in your post, it appears you have studied this thoroughly). My question for you is, how much does Iowa need to be spending on education in a fiscal year? What is the magic number that will get the “world-class” status our governor mentions? $4B? $5B? I would further ask you to explain to us who don’t study this as in detail as you do where the current money goes? How was the $3.8B spent in 2014-15? What programs should we have done last fiscal year, but couldn’t due to lack of funds? How much are we spending to keep schools open in small towns? How much are we paying the administrators in those schools, versus the teachers who are teaching graduating classes of 50 or less? Again, I am asking because I don’t know the numbers, but would question how efficient the spend is to keep some schools going. If I have any numbers above that aren’t correct, please let me know. I just looked at the FY ’15 budget and saw the pie graph showing that 55% is spent on education, to the tune of $3.8B. It would be helpful for those of us reading this blog to understand where the current spend goes, and what amount of spending you feel is necessary to make our schools world class. I will look forward to your post, and feel free to write me at if I am not able to get signed into the blog to read responses.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful response. On your first topic, I don’t think there is any question that the Governor dumped these vetoes at a time when he thought it would receive the least scrutiny. Politicians of all parties do it. There isn’t a political expert who doesn’t understand why he did this when he did it. The entire timing of education funding this year from the legislatures illegal delay in setting the SSA to the Governor’s allowing this to sit on his desk for 27 days is unacceptable in my opinion. As to the question of how much is enough, I am going to give the worst answer in the world; I don’t know. But, I will give the answer that the right hates and the left doesn’t like to give which is, it isn’t enough. Of course that depends on what you want from your schools. I want my son’s schools to have marching bands, choirs, art programs, technology, TSA programs, History Day programs, lots of electives, small class sizes, and the best possible teachers. That costs money. Could we do school for less? I don’t want to come across as too defensive but those who don’t believe that teachers and schools don’t spend considerable time trying to be more cost effective are fooling themselves. If there are people who want to immerse themselves in school cultures and figure out where money is being wasted should join us. Elected school boards across the state scrutinize schools and almost without exception believe that schools are underfunded. Money isn’t the only answer to making our schools world-class, but like it or not it is part of the equation. Over 1000 teaching jobs have been lost for next year due to budget cuts, music and other arts programs are being cut and reduced.

      At some level the question is what do communities want from their schools. If parents and communities want fewer programs and bigger class sizes then they should continue to elect Republicans to the legislature and Governor’s office. I really don’t mean that to be a snotty answer. Part of living in a democracy is that we have choices. My view of our current legislative reality is that the Republican House and Governor were unwilling to compromise or negotiate with their Democratic counterparts and we saw tax breaks for large businesses and wealthy Iowans which creates a smaller “pie/apple” for government services. That’s a philosophy of governing that they believe in. I would argue that people in Kansas have some second thoughts about how it is working there, but time will tell here in Iowa. If I were King I would close tax breaks for the top 1% and make sure that the “pie/apple” was large enough to do the things that a great government can do. I’m a bed wetting liberal who believes in the good things that government can do. I know that’s not the most popular viewpoint in 2015, but I can only be honest.

      The truth is that I believe our Governor wants to crush unions and privatize our schools. It’s a legitimate viewpoint that I disagree with, but he has not had the courage to say that. Until our legislators are honest about their agendas we aren’t going to move this conversation very far forward. Again, thanks for engaging in the conversation.

  4. I just finished looking at the “Iowa’s Program and Budget. Fiscal Years 2016-2017”. Available to the public on pdf with 477 pages. Based on the General Fund Appropriations, 55% of it to Education. Under the Department of Education section, there are 48 Appropriations. Out of the 48 appropriation requests from the Dept. of Education: Governor Branstad recommends that 4 to be decreased, 6 to be increased, and 38 to be met. Only 4 would be decreased by Branstad. Not bad! K-12 Enrollment by the Dept. of Education, based upon the 2015 Iowa’s Program & Budget booklet: peaked in 2002, hit an overall low in 2012, and is currently increasing for the next few years, but at a decreasing rate. The 2019 enrollment projection, falls short of the 2002 school year.

  5. In 2008: “(Former Governor Chet) Culver announced a 1.5 percent across-the board reduction in an attempt to deal with the state’s declining revenues.” The total was $178.4 million in reduced expenses. In 2009: Gov. Chet Culver ordered for a 10% budget cut to save $600 million. That’s a 10 percent across-the-board cut, effective immediately, he said. Source: “Culver orders 10 percent cut, “hundreds” of layoffs”
    For 2016, Branstad signed an overall educational 1.2% increase, and the Democrats wanted a 2% increase.

    Where was the uproar from you liberals & Democrats, back when Governor Chet Culver was making all of those budget cuts?! You all just took it in stride simply because Chet is a Democrat. If Chet was a Republican, you liberals would have rioted in the streets. How to offset budget cuts? It’s to increase taxable revenue, and that’s what Branstad is doing. Branstad is not perfect, but much better than what Culver did as Governor.

    • I was active in opposing education cuts in the past I just didn’t have a blog to express my crankiness. I would also point out that I do not believe President Obama has been strong on education issues. At the moment I believe that I can have an impact by speaking to what is happening in Iowa.

  6. The 10% budget cut under the Culver Administration was caused by the Great Recession. Across the board budget cuts (like the sequester on the federal level) are a non thinking meat axe approach to making budget cuts but in an age when we elect legislators who couldn’t agree to pass a kidney stone, it was the best that can be had. How hypocritical is it for Republicans to blame a budget cut at the peak of a recession on the Democrats, when they pat themselves on the back incessantly for cutting budgets and taxes during good times?
    ……David Mansheim, Parkersburg, Iowa

  7. I’m not sure where to start. I am from Des Moines, my dad taught at East High for 40 years; I graduated from Drake with an elementary education degree and taught in two east side elementary schools for nine years, before I moved to upstate New York. I have taught here full-time for 14 years, retired two years ago because of the damage being done to education, and I now substitute teach. So far, these continuing problems in education have practically ruined our public education system, and NY is way ahead of Iowa in the damage being done. I absolutely hate what Braindead is doing! BTW, I also worked in the Iowa Legislature in 1979 so I had the “pleasure” of meeting Governor B. He only spoke to me when he had to – I was a mere clerical worker. He is the typical rich Republican who helps out his wealthy friends and big businesses. The exact problem that we have at the national level, too. It is quite obvious that Terry pulled this off in the sneaky way he did so he could avoid questions and protests. The $56 million that he vetoed had already been passed on a bipartisan level – WHY would he veto that?? As for not supporting a “one-time payment” to schools, they really need this infusion of dollars to try to make up for the “bare-bones” years. The only extras in this equation are the overblown administrators – there simply are too many, and their pay and benefits are outrageous in comparison to what the teachers – who do the real work – receive. At my school in NY, at least 20 teachers have been cut, but our administrators have tripled. State education, however, will do little to nothing about this issue. There seems to be a “movement” of sorts across the country to destroy public education and to switch to private and charter schools. Our governor is a Democrat – Andrew Cuomo – but he acts just as most of the Republican governors when it comes to education. THEY – and this includes Pres. Obama and Arne Duncan, the national Education Commissioner – all send their kids to private schools. Private schools and charter schools are free to do what they want because they are not state-run. They don’t have to take the low kids, the poor kids, the disabled kids. They don’t have to follow Common Core and the extreme over testing involved with this destructive curriculum. Teaching second-graders about Mesopotamia – used to be taught in sixth grade, but the CC is not developmentally appropriate. And in NY, a majority of the education dollars go to supporting CC and the Pearson Corporation, which is a company based in England. THIS is an area where our education funds need to be taken away from the corporations and given back to the schools! Teachers’ salaries have not kept up with inflation for at least 30 years. Governors in Wisconsin, NY, IA, Kansas, etc., are pushing the private school, corporatized agenda, and it is simply wrong. Well, this post is not as organized as I’d like – I kind of ramble about various issues. But the bottom line is that America has flourished above other nations in large part due to our free public education. Without that, we are going to decline. As long as people like Branstad and Cuomo and Walker (WI) continue to destroy public education, to starve the areas where we really need the money for quality education, our public education will decline to nothing. The wealthy oligarchs will control everything. The gulf between the haves and have-nots will widen, and our formerly strong public education system will be destroyed. Without involvement, and protests, from the public, these politicians will continue to ruin our children’s education. And that is a crime that should have consequences for those destroyers. Speak up for kids and teachers or don’t complain when you have unqualified workers trying to take care of you in your old age.

    • Judith, I’ll have to disagree with your remark that “teachers…do the real work,” while, presumably, administrators do not. As a former K12 teacher, college faculty member, and college administrator, I can say everyone does “real work,” and I would include in that equation teachers, administrators, support staff, janitorial workers, and para-educators — everyone. Indeed, I missed attending more of my child’s events during my 4.5 administrative years than I did as a previous teacher, faculty member, and attorney, combined.

      One of the reasons education encounters challenges in advocating support is that it is a “fractured” industry: faculty vs. administration; CTE faculty vs. Arts & Science faculty; Campus A faculty vs. Campus B faculty; faculty without lab assistants vs. faculty with lab assistants; union faculty vs. non-union faculty; and the like. In addition to the honest conversations among state policy leaders that Patrick advocates — and which I agree — there also needs to be simultaneous, honest conversations from within the education industry (and schools and colleges) itself. Until that happens, education advocacy will, unfortunately, not be as effective as it can be: “A [school]house divided against itself cannot stand.”

  8. I will likely be accused of bias due to the fact that my husband and I are both retired educators, and our daughter has taught for 25 years. She teaches in a bilingual school with about 90% of the students Hispanic and enormous poverty. For next school year she has a $50 allowance for supplies. Since she (and the vast majority of teachers) are dedicated to their students and want to provide them with the tools for learning, she spends huge amounts of her own money to make that happen. She often works 10-12 hour days to create necessary materials to allow that to take place. None of us became teachers to “get rich,” however we take great offense to Gov.Brandstad’s embarrassing manner of ensuring that he got his own way, despite making sure early on in the session that HIS staff was well protected. I feel that educators, mental health professionals, and all the citizens of Iowa concerned about PEOPLE, rise up and demand a recall election if he is so unwilling to compromise for the well being of the state. I further urge all who agree with me to study up and listen to Bernie Sanders who is coming up fast for the Democratic nomination. He
    offers specifics for improving the middle class from the uber rich, and makes a great deal of common sense. No other candidate is currently doing anything but espousing rhetoric on our woes.

  9. Hi Mr. Kearney. I have read your blog a couple times and as an educator, it does connect to me. Our school is currently writing the grant for the TLC and I have heard Ryan Wise talk about it twice now at the Benton Community Ed Camp and the Mt. Mercy TLC Party or whatever they called it. According to Mr. Wise, the money for the TLC has not yet been rolled into the 1.25% that was “agreed upon”. It will get rolled into it either this upcoming year or the year after that when almost the entire state will be enrolled in the TLC Program (which I believe will be beneficial if funded). There was a superintendent who was worried about the money and if that would always be there. According to Mr. Wise, the money is its own line in the budget that will always be there unless the governor takes it much like he did. Also according to Mr. Wise, they are adding roughly 50 million a year to that fund until they get it to 150 million a year for just the TLC program. I am not sure about what will happen after that. Like you said above in your blog, the TLC people (which is why Mr. Wise was brought in) has said that this should not be attached like it will kind of be. I might just be rambling at this point but just something that your blog wasn’t entirely accurate on according to Mr. Wise (and my own memory as well).

    • Thanks for taking the time to reply. Mr. Wise is certainly the expert on this topic. It is my understanding that the TLC money is a part of the 1.25% SSA increase. The schools that are on the TLC grant this year (approximately 2/3’s of Iowa’s schools) must use the TLC identified money for teacher leadership. By next year all schools will be enrolled in the TLC grant. The TLC advisory group did not want TLC money to take away from acceptable SSA growth for schools. By rolling the SSA together with TLC money the Governor can claim that K-12 spending is increasing 1.25% when only about .8% of that can actually go to the school’s general fund. I agree that the TLC grant is unlikely to go away, but I would like the Governor to fund it separately from SSA growth. It is all very confusing and I admit that I learn new things each day.

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