Republican legislators have decided to spend nearly one-point-nine billion state tax dollars on Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools for the next academic year. That total includes a 65-million dollar increase in general state aid to schools, coupled with about 44 million extra to make up for last fall’s budget cuts. Senator Nancy Boettger, a republican from Harlan, says it’s a major step in tight budget times. Boettger says it proves once again that education is lawmakers’ top priority. Republicans hold a majority of seats in the Legislature and get to set the agenda. The G-O-P has included a stipulation that at least 10-million dollars of the new money schools will get must be spent on textbooks, supplies or technology. Representative Jodi Tymeson, a republican from Winterset, says teachers and administrators have complained about a lack of money for textbooks and supplies. But others complain that state is setting new strings on general state aid, and taking away funds that otherwise could have been used to boost teacher salaries or meet other school district needs. Tymeson says the one-point-eight-eight billion dollars for K-through-12 public schools is the biggest chunk of state spending.Tymeson says K-through-12 gets twice what the state universities do and four times as much as is spent on the judicial system, including prisons. The state spends twice as much on elementary, junior and senior high schools than it does on welfare programs. Tymeson leads the House Education Committee; Boettger leads the Senate Education Committee.
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