Capitol Update: Week 9

School Flexibility and Safety

Over the last year, the House Majority championed legislation to provide schools with unprecedented flexibility and control over their resources.  This week, the Iowa House passed legislation that provides schools with even greater flexibility.

These new options build off of last year’s efforts that allow school districts greater ability to make decisions that work best for them.  No two schools are exactly alike, and we shouldn’t take one-size-fits-all approach to their needs.   Local school boards are much better equipped to make decisions, rather than top-down directives from bureaucrats in Des Moines.

We also included an amendment to the bill that will allow schools to direct more funding to hire school security personnel.  After listening to the concerns of Iowans, we are providing schools with the additional flexibility needed to improve safety and security measures.

Increased school flexibility is just a piece of the House plan to improve and support schools across the state.

The House has already acted on many other pieces of the K-12 package announced earlier in the session including:

  • Additional state investment: Schools will receive an additional $32 million in funding next school year.  This brings total annual investment in K-12 schools to more than $3.2 billion, an increase of $765 million since 2011.
  • Transportation cost relief: Schools in rural Iowa often face disproportionately higher transportation costs compared to their urban counterparts.  The House Majority has committed an additional $11.2 million to go towards the state’s most needy school districts, freeing up dollars that can then be used in classrooms.
  • Reducing the per pupil equity disparity: Due to a longstanding issue in the per pupil school funding formula, some schools receive $175 less per student.  The House Majority has taken a big step forward, investing almost $3 million to reduce this gap to $170 per student.  This is the first time the gap has been narrowed since the 1980s.

Work continues to extend the school infrastructure fund, known as SAVE.  A House subcommittee met on the SAVE extension on Thursday and advanced the bill to the full Ways and Means Committee.

The SAVE fund has served as an important tool for schools to make much-needed improvements that ensure modern facilities, safe classrooms, and state of the art technology that enhance students’ educational experience.

Another important aspect of SAVE is that schools can use these funds to make security upgrades to their facilities to improve school safety.

Budget Discussions Taking Place

This week, the House Appropriations Committee heard a presentation from the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts on ways that states like Iowa can manage uncertainty in revenue forecasting.  Pew brought several ideas that other states have implemented to improve their revenue forecasting processes.  It is likely that legislation will be brought forward to implement some of Pew’s proposals to make changes to Iowa’s process.

Additionally, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) will meet on Friday to set their estimate for the FY19 budget year.

Once the projection is determined, we can begin crafting a responsible budget plan for the next fiscal year.  The House Majority will likely release budget targets shortly after the new REC projections.

News from District 96

Matt and Beth McQuillen were part of nearly 50 landowners, families and organization recognized at the Gift to Iowa’s Future Ceremony by the Governor and Lt. Governor for their donation of a permanent conservation easement to the Iowa DNR on their property next to Oxford Junction Wildlife Management Area to protect wildlife habitat. The easement restricts development on the property and also allows for the development of a public parking area for Oxford Junction Wildlife Management Area.  Thank you, Matt and Beth for your donation to Iowa.

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