Legislative leaders say general state aid to schools will increase by four percent for the school year that starts in 2008. By law, the general level of state payments to schools must be set that far in advance, and Governor Culver this week called for a four percent increase.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs concedes that’s two percent less than the teachers union and school board members across the state wanted. "When it’s all said and done the resources we provide to K-through-12 education will get us to well over six percent in terms of total resources given to those schools," Gronstal says. That’s because the governor’s call for 70 million dollars more to provide teacher pay hikes is on top of the per pupil state spending.
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says lawmakers will go along with the Democrats on the general level of state aid to schools — but the teacher pay plan is a whole different story. "We pledged to give the schools a budget that gives them some time to plan. The last two years we committed four percent…That piece is doable," Lundby says. "…But all the other pieces in combination with that will be very, very difficult to do."
A four percent increase in general state aid amounts to a more than 100-million dollar increase for K-through-12 schools. It will also mean local property taxpayers will have to fork over more for schools — 28 million more statewide — because local property taxes are tied to the level of state spending when it comes to schools.