The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate disputes Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds’ assertion that Republicans have offered a “good faith” compromise on education reform.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal rejects the idea it’s now up to Democrats to either accept the GOP offer or present a counter-offer.
“First of all, they haven’t negotiated at all,” Gronstal says. “On their side, all they’ve issued are ultimatums.”
Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says the “ball is in Democrats’ court” now. Gronstal calls that “absurd.”
“To come in and suggest that we’ve got to take everything that’s in their bill and we can’t even discuss it is absurd on its face and they know it,” Gronstal says.
Last week Republicans in the House and Republican Governor Terry Branstad said they’d agree to increase general state aid to schools if Democrats accept all the education reform policies House Republicans endorsed in February. Republicans ow charge Democrats are standing in the way of providing more money to schools. Gronstal says Republicans cannot claim their offer is effectively a four percent increase in state aid for the next year.
“Two percent plus two percent minus 1.5 percent is really only, effectively, a half percent increase for this fall,” Gronstal says. “…I don’t care what they’re trying to project to the public. It’s our job to look for common ground. That’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
The 10-member committee of legislators appointed to find a compromise isn’t even scheduled to meet again ’til Tuesday.
April 15 is the deadline for school districts to “certify” budgets for the school year that starts this fall. Since administrators don’t know how much money the state will be spending on schools next year, some teachers and other school staff will be getting pink slips, as schools plan for everything between zero to a four percent increase in state support.