Democrats in the Iowa Senate have voted to send about $114 million more state tax dollars to Iowa schools for the 2014/2015 school year.
Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, said there’s “no justification” for ignoring the state law that requires legislators to make this decision by tomorrow.
“The state coffers are showing a record surplus,” Quirmbach said during senate debate. “…We are no longer in an economic crisis and we must follow that law. We must give our school districts adequate time to plan for the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars. We can delay no longer.”
But Republicans like Senator Nancy Boettger of Harlan objected, saying school reform decisions should be made first.
“This is about timing,” Boettger said. “…It’s inappropriate and irresponsible to pass a bill about the money until we know what the issues are going to be that we’re going to be addressing.”
Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, suggested sending more state support to schools helps meet Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s goal of raising Iowans’ incomes by 25 percent in five years.
“If you’re interested about helping Iowans and raising family incomes and helping students achieve the world-class status that we all want to do, four percent is a pretty modest request,” Hogg said.
Senator Dave Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, ridiculed Hogg, who is considering a run for governor in 2014.
“With all due respect, Senator Hogg, that’s an awfully long bumper sticker,” Johnson said. “Let’s all take a deep breath and think about this.”
Republicans in the House do not intend to consider the bill this week, so the legislature will have failed to comply with the state law requiring the general decision about school funding to be made about 18 months in advance. House Republicans intend to debate their own school reform plans next week, but House Republicans have decided to make it optional, so schools would not be required to participate.
Senate Democrats voted a few weeks ago on a plan that would set the state funding level for schools for the academic year that begins this July 1, but House Republicans say education reform must come first.