Capitol Update Week 14

House Passes Education Budget

The House this week acted on the Education Appropriations bill (SF 2347) sent over from the Senate the previous week. There is much common ground between the two bills due to the chambers coming together on joint targets and working from the same starting point in discussions this year. The final result is a bill that benefits the students of Iowa greatly.

The biggest piece of the bill is the first of three total installments for the Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) system that was part of 2013’s education reform initiative. $50 million was appropriated to the first round of grantees, with $50 million to follow each of the next two years. In addition to this education reform funding, the bill also provides funding for pilots for English Language Learning initiatives, Iowa Learning Online’s system of online courses available for districts to use, funding for administrator mentoring and coaching which is necessary for the success of the TLC system, and funding for AEAs to support the TLC system. And finally, it provided another important part of the early literacy initiative in 2012’s education reform bill by providing $1.9 million requested to provide districts with an early warning literacy assessment necessary to identify students struggling with literacy before grade 4.

Following this, higher education received several bumps in funding. Community Colleges once again saw a significant increase of over 4%, with an $8 million increase. Private school students will benefit from a nearly 4% increase, $1.4 million, to the Iowa Tuition Grant. And the bill met the $19.2 million request that the Regents proposed for a tuition freeze. The University of Iowa saw a 2%, or $4.5 million, increase; Iowa State received 4%, or $7 million; and recognizing the impact of a tuition freeze on the University of Northern Iowa and their other unique funding needs, the bill provided 4%, or $3.3 million, plus an additional $4.4 million.

The bill also provided relief for those Iowans who are facing a disability, yet trying to gain their independence and find a job. Vocational Rehabilitation received an $850,000 increase, allowing them to maximize their federal match and clear the waiting list for Iowans looking for help.

Other areas receiving increases include state libraries, private school families through textbook assistance, students making a positive life decision in Iowa Jobs for America’s Grads (iJAG), preschool students in early head start programs, and Iowa Public Television.

House Republicans are proud of the work done on this bill, a bill that adequately funds education while still remaining within the principles of spending less than the state takes in, not using one-time funding for on-going expenses, and funding our commitments.

The bill will return to the Senate where a few differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill will be considered before a final resolution.

Week 14 Recap

On Monday, the House recognized the Iowa State Men’s basketball team with HR 124. The resolution congratulates the team and coaches for their accomplishments this season. The team went 26-7 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Men’s Tournament. Members from the team and coach Fred Hoiberg were in the Chamber for the resolution. It was wonderful to see college athletes getting recognized for their hard work and dedication. I’m proud of the team and wish them luck next season.

ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg addressing the House.

ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg addressing the House.

Legislators at the Statehouse are starting to wind things down for the session. In the House, there are a few bills eligible for our consideration. Most of our work in the last few weeks however is budget bills. This week we passed the education budget, transportation, and standings budget.

Some budget bills this session will end up in conference committee.  Once the House and Senate both pass the same bill, it is sent to the governor.  If the Senate and House cannot agree on a bill it is sent to a conference committee which is made up of 10 members, five from each chamber. Of the five conferees, three are from the majority party and two are from the minority. Since Iowa has a split legislature, all conference committees will have five Republicans and five Democrats. Only language in the House and Senate versions of a bill can be considered. No new amendments can be added to the bill.

Once the bill is passed out of conference committee, it goes to the House and Senate for them to concur with the agreement. After both chambers concur, it goes to Governor Branstad for his signature.

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.state.ia.us or by phone at (515) 281-7330.

Sincerely,

Rep. Lee Hein

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