Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to get rid of the state law which requires legislators to set the level of general state aid for schools for the academic year that’s about 16 months away.

House Republicans instead propose ending that kind of advance planning for schools in even-numbered years. Representative Greg Forristal, a Republican from Macedonia, says that aligns with the GOP’s plan to develop a two-year state budget in every odd-numbered year.  

“The experience of the past few years should teach us to guard against making commitments we cannot honor,” Forristal says. “Schools, students, teachers and taxpayers all depend on us to make sound planning (decisions).”

Representative Cindy Winckler, a Democrat from Davenport, says in even-numbered years school administrators will have just a couple of months to adjust their budgets based on how much state aid is advanced by lawmakers.

“I am concerned that it doesn’t meet the timeframe that school districts need in order to gather the appropriate data on staffing and, most importantly, the courses that the school districts offer,” Winckler says.

House Republicans counter that Democrats in the past have failed to set the level of state aid two years in advance. Republicans also point back to 2009 when Democratic Governor Culver ordered a 10 percent across-the-board cut in the state budget, which cut state aid to schools by 10 percent.  Senate Democrats say House Republicans should follow the current state law. Last Thursday was the legal deadline for setting the general level of state aid for public K-12 schools for the 2013/2014 academic year.