Democrats in the Iowa House today banded together to try to take down Governor Branstad’s bill to use some future school infrastructure funds for water quality instead.
But Republicans prevailed and the bill remains eligible for debate.
Years ago, county by county, voters agreed to pay an extra penny of sales tax for school infrastructure. That tax is about to expire. Governor Branstad wants to extend it and use some of the growth for water quality.
Riverside Democrat Sally Stutsman says taking the money away from schools reneges on a promise to voters.
“People voted to use those moneys for infrastructure for their schools,” Stutsman. “They voted in good faith. Now we say never mind we didn’t mean it.”
One by one Democrats on the House Agriculture committee argued more money is needed to clean up the state’s waterways but not at the expense of schools.
"I think it's unfortunate that the quality of our water is dependent upon taking down education," said Fort Dodge Democrat Helen Miller.
On a party-line vote, the House Agriculture Committee approved a version of the Governor’s bill, though backers say the bill is not the final draft. They say the committee vote will keep the discussion going.
The Governor’s bill was amended to allow other educational initiatives to tap the infrastructure fund, in addition to water quality.
Changing the original purpose of the fund requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature.