Capital Update for Week 13

House Proposes Education Reform Compromise

House Republicans offered a compromise to Senate Democrats on Education Reform this week that hopefully moves the conference committee to resolution. The proposed plan saves taxpayers money, allows schools to plan ahead for the long term, and implements policy changes focused on achievement-driven reforms. The proposal calls for the policy in House File 215, as passed by the House, with 2% Supplemental State Aid in FY14 and 4% in FY15. With an additional one-time equivalent payment of 2% in FY14.

Original Proposals
The House passed HF 215 on February 20th and sent it to the Senate that day. The Senate amended HF 215 on April 4th and sent the bill back to the House. While there are similarities between the two versions of the bill, the differences are significant at the moment.

On the funding side of things, the House included in HF 215 2% Supplemental State Aid (SSA), a new allowable growth formula which has the state pay for what would previously have been a property tax increase. The SSA and property tax amount would be $77.3 million in FY14 and $51.3 million in FY15. The education reform efforts in the House bill cost $10.2 million in FY14 and $68 million in FY15.

The Senate included 4% allowable growth in their bill for both FY14 and FY15, costing $136.2 million and $114.6 million, respectively. For the education reform cost, they are a bit misleading in the bill. They provide many things that need funding but put in language stating “contingent upon appropriation.” This makes it a little hard to gage the costs. But what they do have is $75,000 in FY14 and $190.5 million in FY15. The total costs are in the chart below.

House FY14 FY15 Senate FY14 FY15
Reform costs $10.2 million $68 million $75,000 * $190.5 million *
2% Suppl. State Aid $69 million $43 million 4% AG $136.2 million $114.6 million
Property Tax Relief $8.3 million $8.3 million – –
Total $87.5 million $119.3 million $136.2 million * $305.1 million *
* The senate numbers are minimums, given the “contingent upon appropriation” used 9 times in FY14 and 6 times in FY15

The New House Proposal
The new House proposal seeks to find compromise with the Senate on the funding side of things, while maintaining that the bill as passed by the House accomplishes education reform in a meaningful and thoughtful way. HF 215 as passed by the House had the support of nearly all education associations.

With the House language, the House would then meet the Senate on their allowable growth number, but with a slight change. The offer proposes in FY14 2% plus a 2% one-time equivalent payment and in FY15 4%. Here’s how that would look:
New House Proposal FY14 FY15 FY14 FY15
2% / 4% SSA $69 million $111 million 4% AG $136.2 million $114.6 million
2% one-time paymnt $57.1 million –
Property Tax Relief $8.3 million $17.1 million
Reform costs $10.2 million $68 million
Total $144.6 million $196.1 million

The House previously rejected the Senate’s version of education reform. The Senate stripped out nearly all the accountability that existed in the House bill, removed all parental choice, homeschool, and private school provisions, and added various pieces of legislation that the House has not supported over the last several years. Additionally the costs are around $40 million more than the House version and the complexity of their system essentially makes it impossible for the program to have any lasting integrity.

House Republicans believe House File 215 provided a strong path towards educational excellence. The center piece of the bill, the “Teacher Leadership Pathways” program, was designed to raise the stature of the teaching profession and provide a more attractive career option for graduates. The bill infused $145 million into the career pathways over a three year span to help districts promote their best teachers to leadership positions. It provided accountability with teachers and administrators undergoing annual evaluations, with student outcomes figured into the discussion. The evaluations will focus on teacher development, ensuring a stronger teaching force. It also looked to include those outside of the traditional public school classroom, by providing opportunities for home school parents to teach their children without burdensome regulations and impassive state control and for private schools to focus on bettering their practices by raising their standards even higher through accrediting agencies that demand results and share the school’s mission. The bill funds its commitments and now with a compromise on Supplemental State Aid, the legislature can be proud that it will provide schools with ample funds to ensure the results Iowans expect in our schools and for our children.

General Assembly Gives Final Okay to Two Ag Measures

On Monday, April 8, 2013 and on April 9, 2013, final legislative consideration was given to two agricultural measures when SF 316 passed the House by a unanimous 98-aye vote and when HF 312 was approved by the Senate on a unanimous 49- aye vote respectively. SF 316 tweaks existing state farm tenancy law to require termination notice of all cropped farmland not operated under a cost-share agreement regardless of farm parcel tract size be pro- vided in writing by September 1st of a year if the land will not be leased to the current farm tenant for the next crop year and the existing contract didn’t specify a termination date of the agreement. Existing law exempted tracts of 40-acres of less. The bill does however still exempt tracts of less than 40-acres of farmland leased for primarily animal feeding operation purposes from the general notification provisions. The other agricultural bill that got a final legislative consideration was House File 312 which the Senate passed on Tuesday by a unanimous 49-aye vote. HF 312 amends the existing Code language requiring DNR to establish certification standards for manure applicators to expand the scope of such education/“continuing education” to additionally include topics that emphasize practical and cost-effective methods to prevent manure spills and limit the impact of manure spills. The bill instructs DNR to provide that the continuing instructional course be made available via the DNR’s internet site, the internet site of an instructor teaching this course, and/or ISU extension’s internet site and be available to per- sons required by DNR to take such instruction for certification of manure applicator. HF 312’s online manure applicator certification provisions are contingent on the legislature providing DNR with the estimated $250,000 needed to develop and put this educational material online.

Recap of Week 13

Tuesday, the Senate passed the Dam Reconstruction bill on 49-0 vote. The bill now moves on to the Governor for his signature. On Wednesday afternoon I spoke with Governor Branstad about the issue, and I asked for his support and signature. This should help move the Lake Delhi project forward.

On Wednesday afternoon, the legislators hosted the Pioneer Lawmakers. Every two years we host this event. To become a member of the Pioneer Lawmakers you have to be from the class of incoming lawmakers twenty years ago. It is like a class reunion of sorts. The class of 1993 was honored this year. Those honored included two former legislators from the area. They are Joe Ertl from Dyersville and Jerry Welter from Monticello.

In the evening there is a Memorial Service for those former legislators who have passed away in the previous two years. It recognizes each legislator and their families for their service to the State of Iowa.

The focus now turns to the end of the session. There are still some major issues to be resolved. Movement on a broad based property tax reform is still on the horizon and the budget.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these topics or any others please feel free to contact me by e-mail at lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 281-7330.

Sincerely,

Lee Hein

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