SCHOOL FINANCES: House Lawmakers Disagree

Generic Education

Iowa Democrats accused House Republicans of refusing to take action on school funding, Wednesday.

“If there’s a bill sitting in committee and has gone nowhere, there is a rule that you can bring it up that bill in the House to be voted on,” says State Rep. Sharon Steckman, (D) Mason City.

When Steckman tried to bring a Senate bill to the House floor, she says Republicans shot it down.  The bill would raise basic state aid for the 2015-2016 school year to 6%.

“We’re insisting on following prudent budget practices,” says State Rep. Ron Jorgensen, (R) Sioux City.

Jorgensen says lawmakers will set allowable growth for Iowa schools within the first 30 days of the session next year.

“That would give them adequate time to plan for fiscal year ’16 and would be in line with the two-year budget process,” he says.

“Schools are coming to us, pleading for their number so they can do their budgets,” says Steckman.

But Iowa Republicans say committing to 6% would be “poor planning”.

“It is a red flag that if you set it at 6%, we may come back and not be able to honor that,” says Jorgensen.

The state is already honoring a $200-million increase in education funding next year.  Steckman argues lawmakers still need to give Iowa schools time to plan.

“You need to know what your money is going to be to plan your budget.  That’s the bottom line,” she says.

The state set allowable growth for the next school year at 4%.  The Senate bill to raise the rate to 6% cleared the Iowa Senate on February 6th.

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