Democrats in the Iowa Senate have voted to provide K-12 schools a six percent increase in general state aid for the school year that starts in the fall of 2015. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, said those students should be the state’s first priority.
“Thirty-six other states fund their kids’ education better than we do,” Quirmbach said. “Surely we can do better.”
According to state law, legislators are to make a school funding decision 18 months in advance of the start of the school year, but Republican Governor Terry Branstad and Republicans who control the House don’t want to follow the law this year. The only Republican to speak when the issue came up for a vote in the senate was Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan. He pointed to the proposal’s $222 million price tag.
“That increase is unsustainable, unsound and unwise,” Johnson said.
Democrats like Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids argued schools need a funding boost to meet the new requirements of last year’s education reform law.
“It takes resources so that schools, teachers, parents, the community can provide the individualized help that students need to achieve educational success,” Hogg said.
Johnson countered that hefty school funding promises of the past went unfulfilled when the economy went south.
“The state has failed to keep its promise to Iowa school districts in six out of the last 13 fiscal years,” Johnson says. “…Promises made and promises not kept.”
Republican leaders in the House say they do not intend to consider the Senate Democrats’ spending plan for schools.