Iowa Legislature Sends Gov Reynolds Plan to Boost School Funding By 2.4%

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DES MOINES, Iowa - The state legislature is sending an education bill to Governor Kim Reynolds.

The Senate has passed a compromise with the House that boosts school funding by 2.4 percent, which is slightly less than what Reynolds asked for.

The House originally proposed a 2.5 percent increase while the Senate plan called for a 2.2 percent increase. The compromise at 2.4 percent is just under Governor Reynolds' proposal for 2.5 percent.

The plan will increase the amount of money spent on each student in the state - by $179 for each pupil, but many school districts will still see less funding.

The state gives money to districts based on enrollment, and about 40 percent of the district have had declining enrollment because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The districts will be allowed to raise property taxes to make up the difference.

Under Iowa's budget guarantee, school districts that make less than 101-percent of last year's funding can use property taxes to make up the loss.

Democratic lawmakers largely voted against the education bill, arguing more funding is needed to offset the the drop in enrollment.

"I encourage my colleagues to consider this amendment to reduce some of the harm that happens with combining pandemic enrollment drop that we see of this past year with this 2.4 percent level of increase, which is 71 Million dollars less than what we provided last year for public schools, triggering the budget guarantee for 137 school districts, who must then raise property taxes so that they can just maintain last year's budget," said Iowa State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott of Polk County on the Senate floor yesterday.

Republican majorities passed the bill mostly on party lines in both chambers - 32-18 in the Senate, 56-36 in the House.

An analysis by the Legislative Services Agency shows the bill will result in a drop of $7.4 million in funding for pre-schooling. Republicans say they're working on a plan to make up that shortage.

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