Outrage Over Branstad’s Education Funding Veto

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- It was the funding fight that extended the legislative session: how much should the state spend on K-12 education? Lawmakers eventually reached a bi-partisan agreement, and Governor Branstad waited until the day before a holiday weekend to veto it.

The fight for funding started with House Republicans refusing to budge from a 1.25 percent increase. Democrats wanted a 6 percent increase, but eventually dropped to 2.62 percent trying to reach a deal. The break-through came when both sides agreed to the 1.25 percent increase, along with an additional $56 million in funding. As of Thursday night, we know those lengthy negotiations were a waste of time.

Governor Branstad vetoed the bi-partisan deal, eliminating the $56 million in funding.

Governor Branstad isn't saying anything to Channel 13 News about the veto as he had some holiday plans to get to. Governor Branstad announced the funding veto by e-mail and then went to enjoy Thursday night’s Yankee Doodle Pops. Governor Branstad’s Communication Director Jimmy Centers says both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor would not do an interview until Monday.

The statement the Governor sent by email says in part “...I made the decisions today in order to prevent across the board cuts that occurred under the previous administration. Maintaining the fiscal health of Iowa over the long term is my top budgeting priority.” In the emailed statement, the Governor also said, “with any budget, it is important to look at the entire picture. For fiscal year 2016, Iowa schools will receive over $3 billion, by far the biggest item in the state budget.”

Iowa Democrats and the Iowa Association of School Boards managed to find time in their holiday plans to talk about the veto with Channel 13 News. Both groups are outraged. House District 34 Iowa State Representative Bruce Hunter told Channel 13 News, “Any pretense of Governor Branstad or any of the Republicans for that matter having education as a priority just went out the window. This veto is just so blatant and so detrimental to our kids and our teachers.”

Galen Howsare, the Deputy Executive Director of the Iowa Association of School Boards told Channel 13 News, “School board members and other folks out in the field of public education, are not going to see this line item as an act of encouragement for the good work that they`re doing. I mean, we led the nation in graduation rate and then we follow that up with another year of the lowest allowable growth rate in school budgets in over 40 years.”

The IASB also says this means staff won't get rehired, it will mean larger class sizes, have an impact on school supplies, and school districts will have to sacrifice and try and save money where they can and do more with less.

Channel 13 also reached out to the Republican party of Iowa, but they had no comment.