Iowa Senate Passes State Education Funding Bill, Meets House at 2.5%

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(Des Moines, IA) -- The Iowa bill increasing state education funding by 2.5% is going to Governor Kim Reynolds' desk.

Iowa's State Senators vote in approval of House File 2316 to increase the State Supplemental Aid (SSA) by $174 million.

The State House of Representatives and Gov. Reynolds both proposed growth rates of 2.5%, which was higher than the Senate Republicans original proposal of 2.25%.

Senate and House Democrats both proposed an amendment which would raise the budget by 5%, or approximately $300 million.

Iowa Representative Mary Mascher is in favor of the proposed amendment.

"Investing in our children is probably one of the most important things we can do," says Mascher. "I look at SSA funding, our school supplemental state aid, it's extremely important in order for us to make sure that students are prepared to enter the workforce."

The proposal failed in both sides of the rotunda along party lines.

House Republican Cecil Dolecheck says 5% is too high, but points out that another House bill would bring over $19 million in supplemental funds to public schools to help meet the schools' needs.

"With the economy and the budget the way it is, we felt [2.5%] is how we can best serve our schools," says Dolecheck. "We came up with an additional supplemental bill that basically takes our package in the House around to the 3% range in total."

The Senate is not electing to take up the $19 million supplemental funds bill, but did vote to meet the House and Reynolds at 2.5% on the SSA bill by a vote of 31-17.

The bill now moves to Governor Reynolds' Office, but the Iowa Association of School Boards says the increase isn't enough to cover inflation.

"Districts have seen 10%, and higher, increases in their insurance costs. They are seeing increases in utilities, gas, and all of the other things as it relates to that inflationary factor," says Emily Piper, a Lobbyist for the Iowa Association of School Boards.

Piper says if the funds public schools receive aren't enough to offset the increased costs to keep schools open, the educational experience for Iowa's children will suffer.

"You couple that with the fact that Iowa is experiencing a severe teacher workforce shortage. Schools are needing to be competitive in the marketplace to attract people to come and teach, and that's really going to limit their ability," says Piper. "We're probably looking at cuts in programming and larger class sizes. Those are things that negatively impact the educational experience that our kids deserve."

Piper says the Iowa Association of School Boards believes a 4% SSA growth rate would be ideal.

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