Governor-elect Terry Branstad says previously reduced state funding levels for Iowa’s K-12 public schools may be restored, but an overall increase in general state aid to public schools may be more than the state can afford.
“We’re in the very early stage in putting the budget together. What I’ve tried to tell school districts is we can’t afford to continue business as usual,” Branstad says. “We’re going to try to look at things we can do to try to eliminate some of the mandates and some of the things that drive up their costs. And then we need…to find better, more efficient ways to deliver the services.”
Branstad says he’s considering getting rid of the requirement that schools teach students C.P.R. and other kinds of state “mandates” which superintendents complain are driving up costs. But Branstad says since it will take about $216 million extra just to bring general state aid to schools up to previously promised levels, he’s not inclined to promise much more.
“With the limited resources we have, we’ll have to look at what’s the art of the possible,” Branstad says.
Schools saw a general increase in state support on July 1, 2009, but in October, ’09, Governor Culver ordered a 10 percent across-the-board cut in state spending that reduced state payments to schools by that amount as well.
Branstad’s budget chief says a one percent increase in general state aid to schools for the next academic year would amount to an extra $27 million.
“I think we need to be honest and open and say that we have very limited resources and we have more obligations than we have resources at this point in time,” Branstad says. “So we have a lot of work to do between now and when we submit the budget.”
Branstad is scheduled to present a state budget plan to legislators on January 25. He made his comments to reporters Monday afternoon following a briefing on the details of state taxpayer support of public schools.