Iowa’s one-hundred-50 state lawmakers are now lawbreakers, although there’s no penalty for what they’ve done or in this case not done. Iowa law says the legislature is supposed to vote on how much general state aid to send Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools within 30 days of when the governor submits his budget plan to lawmakers.
The deadline came and went last week, and Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson says it’s partly because Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack wants all education spending issues resolved in one package. Iverson says the goal should be to accomplish the “big picture” rather than to be focused on the smaller issue of how much more state aid, or “allowable growth” to extend to schools for the academic year which begins in the fall of 2007. “If we’re going to pass it and the governor vetoes it, how much good does that do anybody?” Iverson asks.
But Michael Gronstal, the leader of Democrats in the Senate, says he’ll try to press for a vote this week on the single issue of increasing general state spending on schools for the 2007/2008 academic year. “We think there are the votes in the senate to get to six percent and we intend to proceed in that direction,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal says he’s “very confident” there are the 26 votes necessary in the senate to pass a bill that would boost state spending on public schools by six percent. Gronstal says Democrats didn’t want to break the law that set a February 9th deadline for making the decision. “We were prepared to move forward last week and we were prepared to move forward the week before,” Gronstal says.