School Aid Agreement Still Elusive

Feb 1, 2016

At the statehouse this week, Democrats and Republicans will try to reach accord on K-12 school funding for the school year that starts in the fall.  

The legislature is already late in approving the aid, which by law should have been passed in the last legislation session.

Once again this year, Democrats seek a larger increase for schools than Republicans.      

Democratic Senator Majority Leader Mike Gronstal recalls last year the two parties fought for weeks on a bipartisan compromise, only to have it vetoed by the governor.

“Spending an extra two or three months to come up with something that gets vetoed doesn’t make sense,” Gronstal says.  “So we’re going to encourage our folks to reach agreement.”    

“We have to come to consensus,” says Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer.   “We can do it sooner or we can do it later and there’s no reason not to do it sooner.”

A joint house senate committee has begun its work trying to approve a bill that will have the necessary votes in both the House and Senate.

Democrats are seeking an increase in school funding that’s double what Republicans have approved.    Governor Branstad’s recommendation falls in between the two sides.

Democrats argue that schools have been underfunded for five years.    Republicans say a bigger increase is not sustainable.

State law also requires the legislature to approve funding for the 2017-2018 school year by February 12.   Democrats say they will meet that deadline.   Republicans say it’s irresponsible to approve school funding before the latest update on projected state revenues.