Governor Tom Vilsack on Friday recommended a modest spending increase for K-12 schools in 2006. But statehouse republicans are more interested in figuring out how much to spend on education in 2005. The governor’s recommendation is in line with the law that school funding’s supposed to be set for two years out, so local districts can negotiate salaries with teachers. Governor Vilsack proposes spending four percent more on basic school aid and two percent more on teacher compensation– an increase of137-million dollars. Vilsack says the state must ensure continuing educational excellence and it should be a priority so with revenues “ticking up just a bit” he wants to make sure the additional money coming in is dedicated to education. The governor says as he’s traveled the country trying to talk businesses and CEOs into relocation in the state, he says he’s “overwhelmed” by how many ask about schools. But a republican charged with drafting the legislature’s budget says the governor’s proposal is unrealistic. Shellrock representative Bill Dix says state tax collections have been static the past couple of years, and would have to grow more than four percent for the state to cover this kind of increase. Dix says the revenue picture is “uncertain” and he refers to how over-optimistic projections in recent years resulted in across-the-board cuts. Dix says he sees more economic uncertainty, not the crystal ball the governor’s looking into, and he thinks this proposal is not affordable. Representative Dix says republicans are busy trying to come up with the two percent increase lawmakers promised schools for 2005.
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