Iowa Democrats Want More Money for Education in This Year's State Budget

(Iowa Democratic Representative Heather Matson)

DES MOINES, Iowa - A state lawmaker is pushing for more money to be spent on public schools in Iowa.

Democratic Representative Heather Matson of Ankeney says schools have been systematically under-financed over the last decade. "I What we have seen over the last decade is, quite frankly, cuts," said Matson. "Even though the amount technically goes up, because it's not even coming close to the cost of inflation, it's essentially a cut."

Iowa House Republicans are proposing a 2.5 percent increase this year, while House Democrats want a 3 percent boost, which translate to $94 million versus $133 million.

Matson thinks there's plenty of money available to support the Democratic plan. "As I hear some of my colleagues in the majority party talking about how the economy is doing better, and we've got this surplus, well then I say surely we do $133 million for our kids," Matson said.

The Republican-controlled legislature increased K-12 funding by 2.1 percent last year, an increase of almost $80 million. It increased funding by 1.1 percent and 1 percent in the years before.

The state now spends $3.3 billion a year for schools.

Matson also wants more money for English Language Learning in Iowa public schools. "It has been a recommendation from stakeholders in the last seven or eight years to do an increased amount," said Matson. "Fortunately we have a bill in the (House) education committee that will do just that."

In addition, Matson is backing a bill to address Special Education funding in the state.

She was a guest on the Jeff Angelo Show on WHO Radio.

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