Capitol Update: Week 4

Judicial Nominating Reforms

A top priority this session is bringing more fairness and accountability to Iowa’s judicial selection process.  Under the current process, nominating commissions interview candidates for open judge positions and recommend three individuals for the Governor to choose from.  These commissions are made up of people appointed by the Governor and lawyers who are elected by other lawyers.

Under the proposed reforms, the Governor will continue to select half of the members on the nominating commissions.  Legislative leaders from both parties will select the other half.  Additionally, judges will no longer serve on nominating commissions, thus eliminating any sort of perceived undue influence based on their powerful positions.

By including more elected leaders everyday Iowans will have a larger voice in the process thereby creating more accountability in the system.  These reforms will ensure a merit-based judicial selection process and that the best people become judges.

Education Funding Discussion Upcoming

The House will debate education funding in the upcoming days; therefore, I wanted to look back at the progress we have made so far on behalf of our students and our schools.

Since the 2011-12 school year, investment in K-12 education has increased by $765 million, or about 30%.  Over that same time, the rate of inflation is 10.96% according to the Midwest Consumer Price Index.  Funding for schools has increased at nearly triple the rate of inflation!

This has resulted in:

  • More teachers: 3,100 new full-time teachers hired to staff Iowa classrooms
  • Smaller class sizes: A lower student-teacher ratio every year, even while enrollment has increased
  • Competitive teacher pay: Average teacher pay has increased to almost $59,000 statewide which is among the highest in the country when adjusted for cost-of-living

Building on our past commitment, this week House and Senate leaders announced an agreement on a K-12 funding package for the 2019-20 school year.

The agreement includes an additional $89.3 million in new funding for Iowa’s K-12 schools.

  • $7.8 million to reduce transportation costs for rural schools. This will ensure more dollars make their way into the classroom.
  • $2.9 million to reduce the cost per pupil gap by $5 per student. This continues to reduce a long-time inequity that has existed in the school funding formula since the 1970s.

Once this package is passed, state investment in K-12 education will top $3.3 billion per year.  The House majority will continue to look at additional opportunities for education such as extending the school infrastructure tax (SAVE), improving school safety efforts, and greater flexibility for school boards and administrators.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s