One thing the Legislature and the Governor's Office can agree on is improving education. Wednesday, the Iowa Senate put three school funding bills to a vote. Senate Democrats say schools need more money now to avoid cuts in classrooms.
“Over the last three years we had 2%, zero and 2%. Very meager increases,” says Sen. Herman Quirmbach, (D) Ames.
The Democrat controlled Senate approved a 4% increase in state funding.
“If you want world-class schools for all of the kids in Iowa, you gotta pay for it. We gotta stop doing this education on the cheap,” says Sen. Robert Hogg, (D) Cedar Rapids.
To keep property taxes from going up, the plan takes money from the Taxpayer Relief Fund. A portion of it would even go to lower property taxes for some communities.
“That is a substantial amount of property tax relief in those districts that have those high rates,” says Quirmbach.
Senate Republicans tried, but failed, to put a proposal of their own to a vote. They want to return money in the relief fund to Iowa taxpayers.
“We have an excess of $800 million at the end of this fiscal year. That came from over taxing our citizens. This is their money. This is not the state's money,” says Sen. Randy Feenstra, (R) Hull.