Republicans in the Iowa House this morning voted to send their education reform package to the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs said Democrats have already started work on their own bill.
“We’ll take a look at their bill,” Gronstal told Radio Iowa this morning. “We’ll see what’s in it and we’ll proceed in a diligent way to go through the governor’s recommendations and we’ll probably add some ideas of our own as well.”
The House debated a series of education-related proposals for more than five-and-a-half hours Tuesday night before suspending work on the legislation shortly before midnight. House rules prohibit votes between midnight and 8 a.m. Just before nine o’clock this morning, 52 House Republicans voted to approve the GOP’s plan, while all the House Democrats who were present voted against it. Representative Ron Jorgensen, a Republican from Sioux City, was the bill’s floor manager.
“Well, we had a great debate last night and now it’s time that we move forward,” Jorgensen said.
Senator Gronstal said Democrats have “significant concerns with some elements” of the House Republicans’ plan. In addition, Gronstal faults Republicans in the House for tacking on a proposal that outlines how much additional state support Republicans want to send schools for the next two years. Gronstal said state law stipulates that school spending decision is to be made independently — not incorporated into another bill — and the legal deadline for that decision has passed.
“Even if you’ve decided you’re going to trade in your car and get a new one — you’re going to reform your transportation — even if you decide that, you still fill the car up with gas and change the oil, so we need to provide funding to our local schools,” Gronstal said. “They need to know what that is.”
Representative Jorgensen estimated the state will spend another $157 million just to implement the proposals outlined in the education reform bill.
“We are making a significant investment in education that will help move Iowa back to leading the country again in education and, as a result, benefit the lives of the citizens who live in this great state,” Jorgensen said this morning.
If the bill becomes law, as many as 8300 Iowa teachers could become mentors for other teachers in their school — and they’d be paid bonuses for their classroom coaching sessions. House Republicans also voted to set $32,000 as the minimum teacher salary in Iowa. Schools with teachers on staff who earn less than that could use some of the extra money from the state to raise those salaries to at least 32-thousand dollars.
(Yhis story was updated at 11:26 a.m. to reflect the vote of a House Republican’ who cast his vote after the vote tally was announced in the House.)