Governor Tom Vilsack wants to divert money from the state’s reserve accounts to pay for a new education program. The governor said funding could come from money that goes into the state’s reserve accounts when tax collections come in higher than anticipated.
But Republican House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City says that money is too unpredictable. Rants questions whether it would mean “Maybe a million dollars one year, ten million dollars the next year.’ He says it wouldn’t give school districts ability to develop something they could rely on. Vilsack told the Iowa Taxpayers Association in Des Moines Tuesday that he wants to give grants for schools to try longer school days or an extended school year, even things like combining grades or offering more music education.
Rants says there’s always a temptation to “sort of Christmas tree” state revenue dollars that comes in above expectations, but if it’s important to do then it should be in a permanent budget. If it’s not important then he says you don’t have to, but he criticizes a plan to give out just some extra dollars when they’re available.
Rants says it’s not fair to make schools wait on unexpected tax collections. Rants says education should be looked at but he thinks some permanent funding source should be put in place that schools can rely on, rather than “Maybe there’s excess revenue or maybe there’s not.”
The governor’s presentation to the Iowa Taxpayers Association on Tuesday, including his announcement that a dollar invested in education will bring a bigger return than a dollar invested in business, got a polite but chilly reception.