Week two has come to a close. House Republicans are already hard at work to act quickly to set education funding and build a responsible budget.
On Tuesday, the House Education Committee passed a bill to increase school funding for next year by over $80 million. This bill, together with our previous commitment to the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System, would mean 84 percent of the $153 million in new available revenue would be spent on K-12 education. This bill will be eligible for floor debate on Monday and will be the first piece of legislation that I call up for debate as House Majority Leader.
As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the state’s economy is strong, yet growth is slowing. While there is no economic emergency, we will need to be strategic with any new commitments made by the legislature. The difference between the budget enacted for the current fiscal year and the new FY 2017 revenue estimate is $153 million. Built-in increases, which have been previously approved, federal mandates, or are otherwise required by code, total $207.8 million. This includes items such as Medicaid, teacher leadership, and the Business Property Tax Credit. This does not include an increase in supplemental state aid for K-12 schools, additional funding requests for the Regents universities or community colleges, or any other funding increase requests from various entities.
While all of this presents a significant challenge, House Republicans are up for the task and already working hard to craft a budget that spends less than we take in. We’re working to find a way to provide K-12 schools with the most responsible increase possible without sacrificing other priorities like public safety and economic growth.
One way we’re looking to find savings is through reviewing the standing appropriations within the state’s budget. Unlike other line items in the state budget, this is a series of state appropriations established in either the Iowa Code or Iowa Constitution that generally do not receive serious review. This year, the Budget Review Subcommittee, led by friend Rep. Ken Rizer, will begin reviewing the standings appropriations to identify savings and set the foundation for this year’s standing appropriation bill.