Republicans: Use Education Fund for Schools, Not Water Quality

Feb 3, 2016

Governor Branstad’s proposal to pay for millions of dollars in water quality improvements now has some competition in the Iowa House and it’s coming from the governor’s fellow Republicans. 

Branstad wants to extend a penny sales tax for schools that is set to expire. 

The tax currently goes into a special fund for school infrastructure.  

Under Branstad’s plan, some of the growth in the fund would be used to clean up Iowa’s waterways.  

House Education Committee Chair, Republican Ron Jorgensen, says he needs more information on the governor’s proposal.

“It's come up with us so quickly,” Jorgensen says.    

House Republicans would also extend the penny sales tax for school infrastructure that’s set to expire.    But growth in the fund would go for other education initiatives, not water quality.

“I’m not as familiar with water quality needs,” Jorgensen says.  “I'm an education individual and I know what the needs are of the education community.”

The House bill would use the new money to equalize per pupil funding for Iowa schools.  It would also help rural schools struggling with transportation costs, and alleviate some property tax inequities.

Governor Branstad has not yet introduced his bill.

Some school groups oppose the governor’s plan.   At a statehouse hearing, they expressed mixed views on the Jorgensen alternative.

“We have some grave concerns,” said Emily Piper, a lobbyist with the Iowa State School Board Association.

Branstad calls his water quality proposal one of the biggest, boldest initiatives of his years as governor.