Governor Terry Branstad says he wasn’t surprised he got a standing ovation from legislators when he talked about the need to pass an anti-bullying bill. The moment came during Branstad’s “Condition of the State” message on Tuesday morning. Branstad spoke with Radio Iowa late Tuesday afternoon.
“I think its time has come,” Brasntad said. “I think there’s a lot of interest in that and I think we perfected what we proposed last year.”
Branstad has tweaked his anti-bullying proposal after failing to get legislators’ approval in each of the past two years. For instance, he’s recommending the bill include a parental nofice provision, so the student’s parents will be told if they’ve been involving in a bullying incident. Branstad has embraced the idea of spending more sttate money to train school administrators and teachers to deal effectively with bullying.
“We have tried to listen to some of the concerns that people had about the bill last year, such as if a student changes schools because of bullying, they’d be able to not have to sit out — they could participate in athletics immiedately,” Branstad said. “The parental notification is important, but if there is a situation where the child would be harmed by that, we want there to be an opportunity to protect that child from that.”
Branstad unveiled his top legislative priorities, along with his proposed state budget yesterday. It would include more money for the public universities, but not as much as was requested — for instance, if the governor’s proposal is adopted by legislators the University of Iowa would get a third of what they’ve requested to cover a shift in the way state tax dollars are distributed to the three universities.
“There’s only so much money available,” Branstad said. “And, you know, this is a tight budget.”
The board that governs the three state universities issued a written statement, saying Branstad’s budget plan would provide enough new state support for the schools so they’ll be able to freeze in-state tuition for a third consecutive year. But the board plans to lobby legislators to provide more money to the University of Iowa in the first year of the new system that will send Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa more state resources, since they have more students who are Iowa residents.
The governor’s overall $7.3 billion state budget plan for the next fiscal year is between four and five percent larger than the current year’s budget.