Republicans in the House have sketched out a plan for next year’s state budget that does not include new spending for teacher salaries or for preschool — two of Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s priorities. Representative Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee says the House G-O-P spending plan is about 200-million dollars lower than the one Vilsack has proposed. “We are putting together what I believe is a very responsible and reasonable budget,” Raecker says.
But Raecker says there’s not yet an agreement on how to proceed on the teacher pay issue. Raecker says House Republicans are interested in raising beginning teacher salaries, and paying science and math teachers more. “You’re not going to be hearing me saying ‘We’re starting at zero and that’s where we’re staying — at zero,'” Raecker says.
But House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says if more money is set aside to raise teacher salaries, then something else in the budget will have to be cut because it’s doubtful this legislature will vote to raise taxes.
“There may be a few changes to this before we finally get the bill signed,” Rants says. “But it’s going to have to fit within that pie.”
Rants says he and his fellow Republicans are making the choice not to start new state programs which he contends would force legislators to raise taxes in the future to keep up. Under the House Republican plan K-through-12 public schools, community colleges, and private schools will get a four percent increase in general state spending.
The state supported-universities would get less in general taxpayer support, but Raecker says Iowa, Iowa State and U-N-I will get more money from another pot of state money: gambling taxes. The budget sketched out by House Republicans does not include any money to plan for construction of a new state prison. House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque says the House G-O-P plan revealed today proves Republicans aren’t interested in working together and are more interested in “playing politics.”