As we wrap up our fourth full week of session, our attention remains steady on setting Supplemental School Aid (SSA), and the broader school funding conversation. As stated in last week’s newsletter, House Republicans want to expand the discussion beyond percentages, and keep other key issues at the forefront such as allowing for more flexibility, resolving inequities, and creating certainty for schools.
K-12 education continues to be a top priority for legislators and many Iowans. State investment in our schools totals nearly $3.2 billion per year, which accounts for 43% of Iowa’s General Fund budget. Over the last six years, funding for K-12 is up by $640 million, demonstrating our strong commitment to schools. This year, we’re looking to increase funding by an additional $40 million.
One of the most common things I hear from school boards and school administrators is the need for predictability and that’s why we are committed to passing SSA in the first thirty days. It is also important to point out that, the bill we plan to move off the floor next week following a public hearing won’t be the last thing we do on K-12 funding this session. Once SSA is set, we will turn our attention to other key school funding priorities.
Different school districts have different needs, so we’re looking to give school districts more flexibility and authority to spend the dollars we provide them. It is especially important during tight budget years to make sure schools have the ability to spend each dollar in a way that makes the most sense for their individual districts.
Since serving in the Legislature, I’ve heard about various funding inequities that schools face. We will work to rectify some of these issues in the funding formula in an effort to create a more level playing field for school districts across the state. We are taking a look at many different proposals that seek to address the inequities that some of our districts experience such as transportation costs and English Language Learning.
With the first funnel looming at the end of this month, we have a lot of work to get done. As always, I appreciate your input on any legislation being considered.
FFA students from across the state visited the Capitol on Tuesday. I had the honor of meeting with several members of the Des Moines FFA Chapter to discuss agriculture and education. These young people have a bright future!