Capitol Update: Week 4

House Majority Introduces Education Priorities

The House Majority this week unveiled our school funding plan for the next school year.  The plan contains increased funding, an extension of infrastructure dollars, property tax relief for districts, transportation funding for districts with high costs, and a host of new flexibility provisions for existing dollars.

The plan started with committee work on State Supplemental Aid (SSA) to schools, a move that sets the increase for school district general fund budgets and other specific funds used for students and programs.  Additional details on the rest of the plan will be released over the coming weeks as the Education Committee works through the various policy proposals.

Increased School Funding

Following 7 years of increased funding for schools, the House Majority once again put education first by establishing FY 2019 school aid increases as the first budget item.  After over $730 million in increases over the past years, the proposed increase for FY19 adds another $32 million to the list.  This is the result of a 1% increase in the per pupil amount that the state spends, overwise known as SSA.  In this number is the continuation of the state providing property tax relief by picking up the increase in property taxes that results from increasing the per pupil amount.

Education as a Priority

While an increase in funding was a priority for the House Majority, it’s important to keep in mind the context under which the new school funding was issued.  A decrease in state revenue meant that cuts in state spending needs to be addressed with reductions in some areas.  K-12 funding was not cut in any way during these discussions and actions, when many other areas of state spending will see reductions.

It’s quite simple.  The House Majority values public education in this state and have since 2011.  State funding for schools has increased every year under our leadership; we helped lead the charge on a transformative education reform package that put teacher leaders in every building in the state to elevate the teacher profession, backing it up with over $150 million in annual funding; beginning teacher pay was increased; the number of teachers state-wide and the average teacher salary have increased every year; and Iowa’s ranking among the states for per-pupil spending is steadily increasing.

News from District 96

Senator Chuck Grassley was in the Capitol this week.  We visited about trucking regulations and complications involving the new electronic logs and how it applies to the livestock industry.  The logs have limited driver flexibility when it comes to loading and time on the road.  This creates concerns for moving livestock and biosecurity issues as well.  Senator Grassley was aware of the problem and said he is working on a solution.

It was a historical occasion this week as Governor Kim Reynolds signed SF512, an act relating to water quality, as the first piece of legislation of the session.  This made SF512, the first piece of legislation signed by the first female Governor of Iowa.  I was proud to have helped move this legislation through the process during both this session and last session.

This week I also met with Superintendent Lisa Beames from Anamosa and Superintendent Doug Tuetken from Maquoketa Valley and Midland.  We discussed Supplemental State Aid and transportation issues for their school districts.

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