Republican legislators say they intend to send Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools nearly 45 million dollars in additional state aid in the 2005/2006 school year. It’s a quarter of what schools had been requesting, and less than what democrat Governor Tom Vilsack recommended. But Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says there’s only so much money to go around.Iverson says lawmakers have an entire state budget to consider, and don’t have the “luxury” of dealing just with K-through-12 education. Iverson says lawmakers have to “look at the big picture” and the amount they’ve set aside is “enough.” Iverson says when you look at the overall Iowa economy, a lot of workers are having their wages frozen or even cut, so schools — and teachers — should feel lucky to be getting more money from the state. Iverson says education is “the top priority for almost every single one of us in Iowa” but he says folks have to be realistic. Iverson says raising taxes, as the Governor has suggested, isn’t the answer. He says Republicans are committed to giving K-12 an increase, while other areas of the state budget are being cut. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says the G-O-P is promising to spend about 90-thousand dollars per classroom for the 2005/2006 academic year. G-O-P lawmakers say this is the last year they want to set state aid to schools so far in advance. They’ll try to change the state law that forces them to make that decision. Governor Vilsack says such a move would send the wrong signal about the state’s commitment to education.
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