Iowa’s education community sees a lot at stake as legislators are set to resume action in special session tonight. The House is scheduled to begin debating a mammoth bill that would create a new half a billion dollar state economic development fund, enact regulatory reforms, dramatically alter the state’s property tax system and cut income taxes by 300-million. Margaret Buckton of the Iowa Association of School Boards says educators worry that tax cut will lead to cuts in state support for schools. Buckton predicts the state will struggle for years, financially, if the tax cut is enacted. Meantime, Buckton and other advocates for education are asking legislators to approve spending millions in state tax dollars on school repair and construction projects as part of that new state economic development fund. A group of schools and parents have filed a lawsuit over the financing of school improvements. The group contends the state law that lets counties collect a local option sales tax to finance school infrastructure unfairly benefits urban areas. The legislature is considering a fix that would eventually change the local option sales tax system, and in the interim have the state pony up some money for school infrastructure. Buckton says the folks she’s talked to who’re involved in the lawsuit would drop it if the legislature puts 250-million dollars into school infrastructure. The House has voted to do that. The Senate has voted to spend half as much. It’s one of the details that’s been debated behind closed doors as a few Republican lawmakers have tried in the past couple of days to strike a final deal on the economic stimulus package that’s supposed to be ready for House consideration this evening.
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