Governor Chet Culver is calling on legislators to send more state aid to Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools. The opening paragraph in the “Condition of the State” speech Culver delivered at the statehouse this morning used the word “extraordinary” to describe the challenges facing state lawmakers this year.
“There’s much to do, and no time to waste,” according to the governor.
Twice in the speech Culver called on legislators to help ensure the 21st century will be “Iowa’s Century.” And Culver offered a defense of the way he and his fellow Democrats in the legislature have handled the state’s finances.
On education, Culver asked that legislators send K-through-12 public schools in Iowa $100 million to make up for some of the across-the-board cut he ordered in October, plus Culver says legislators should keep the commitment they made and provide a two percent increase in general state aid to schools for the academic year that begins this fall.
“This will be a real, short-term shot in the arm for some of our schools, especially in rural districts, which are already cash-strapped, with depleted reserves,” Culver said.
Read Culver’s entire speech here: Condition of the State 1-12-2010
Republicans say they found little in the speech to cheer. And House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha suggested Culver stuck to a self-serving core message: “The theme: I’m running for governor. I mean, that’s what I got out of it.”
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, called it the best speech Culver’s ever given. Murphy said the governor’s education spending proposals are aggressive in a year when legislators are cutting budgets.
“Oh, I think it’s going to be tough,” Murphy told reporters. “But quite frankly that’s one of the Democrat high priorities so I think we would like to see if we can achieve that.”
(This story was updated at 11:42 a.m.)
Photo by Robert Nandell