The top Democrat in the Iowa legislature used his opening day speech to challenge Republicans to boost state support of Iowa’s public schools. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs said Iowa “needs a larger middle class” and access to good schools is key to that goal.
“In the long run, you get what you pay for and we aren’t paying for world class schools,” Gronstal said.
Gronstal chastised Republicans for failing to meet past deadlines for setting the amount of general state aid for Iowa school districts, but praised Governor Branstad for saying last week that he’d make a recommendation tomorrow on how much more state money he’d like to forward to schools.
“It was great to hear that Governor Branstad is adopting a new approach to education. His next words, however, were a disappointment. Governor Branstad predicted Democrats would be disappointed. That’s wrong. That comment shows exactly whey school funding has become a mess,” Gronstal said. “Education funding is not and should not be primarily about partisan politics. Never.”
According to Gronstal, Branstad and his fellow Republicans are disappointing “parents, teachers, school administrators, school boards and community leaders” who would like to see stability in school finances.
“Governor, you need to focus on the Iowa families for whom the doors to the local schools are the doorways to a better life for their children,” Gronstal said.
And Gronstal seemed to offer this response to Branstad’s early morning call for Republicans to start recruiting legislative candidates for 2016.
“Our state’s at a critical point in our history. Iowans are struggling financially, they’re worried about their future and they are depending on us,” Gronstal said. “Let’s all agree the election is over and it is too early to start the next campaign.”
AUDIO of Gronstal’s speech, 6:30
The other top leaders in the legislature delivered speeches to mark the start of the 2015 legislative session, but none were as confrontational as Gronstal’s.