The Iowa House last night approved a big tax cut for senior citizens in the state — but it could be bad news for schoolkids. Senate Democrats are pushing for a 150-million-dollar increase in funding for K-through-12 schools in 2007. It’s a six-percent increase, aimed largely at skyrocketing costs for heating school buildings and powering their buses as well as teacher pay raises.

But Senator Mike Connolley of Dubuque says the state can’t afford that if the legislature also approves a 280-Million dollar cut in the income tax charged on Social Security and pensions. Connolley says “This is an annual ritual here in the legislature, the tax cut fever.” He says we have to get our priorities straight, and the first priority is the children of Iowa and the educational system. Connolley says “We’ll talk about tax cuts down the road.”

But it’s not solely house Republicans to blame. Thirty members of Connolley’s own party voted for the tax cut as well, including Representative Polly Bukta, a Democrat from Clinton. Bukta says she didn’t like the way the bill turned out, but voted for it because she’d said she would.

Bukta says the tax on pensions and Social Security are a big issue in her river city, since residents can simply move across the Mississippi to Illinois, where they don’t have to pay those taxes. But Bukta also worries about the impact such a tax cut would have on schools. Bukta says she doesn’t “see how we could get all that money at this time.” Something will have to be done, she says, and adds the state senate is likely going to be where the problem’s resolved. Senate Democrats say they’d like to cut taxes this year but may not go as far as the House did.