2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Iowa GOP proposes 2.1 percent K-12 funding boost

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa’s public K-12 schools appear in line for a 2.1 percent state funding boost for the 2019-20 school year.

Republican leaders in the Iowa Capitol said Monday they have reached an agreement with Gov. Kim Reynolds and will soon begin running bills with the goal of sending them to Reynolds next week.

The proposal would produce a $3.3 billion state public K-12 education budget, including $89.3 million in new funding.

The new funding includes:

• a 2.1 percent increase in general funding, or $78.6 million

• $7.8 million to help districts with outsized transportation costs

• a $5-per-pupil boost in the school funding formula, or $2.9 million

“We’re confident that the amount that we’re committing here today is sustainable, we will be able to fund it and it shows the priority that we have for K-12 education,” said Jack Whitver, the Republican Senate Majority Leader from Ankeny.

The general budget increase more than doubles the 1.1 percent and 1 percent increases Reynolds and the Republican-led Iowa Legislature approved for the current and previous school years.

“At the end of the day, this is a big increase,” said Linda Upmeyer, the Republican Iowa House Speaker from Clear Lake. “We’re talking about serious money. We’ve made a serious attempt to increase revenue to schools and also leave revenue for other priorities of Iowans. This is a significant portion of the budget. We still have to discuss regents and community colleges, so we’ll continue with our education work. I think it’s a big commitment. It’s a serious commitment.”

Reynolds, in her budget proposal released in January, had called for a 2.3 percent general funding increase. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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Herman Quirmbach, the top Democrat on the Senate’s education committee, said the Republican proposal is inadequate in part because it does not compensate for the low funding increases in the previous two years.

Senate Democrats, who are in the minority, have proposed a 3 percent general funding increase.

“The last two years have been pitiful,” Quirmbach said. “I think a higher number is in order.”

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