As we move towards adjournment we have come to a stalemate between the Governor, the Senate Republicans and the House Republicans. The Senate Republicans and the Governor support the voucher bill, a bill that would take public funding from our public schools and give it to private schools. Democrats in the house and senate are adamantly opposed to this legislation. House Republicans have stated, they do not have the votes to pass the voucher bill.
So, everything has come to a standstill. Republicans in the senate are refusing to pass any budget bills until the voucher bill is passed in the House. House Republicans have gone home and refuse to return until the Senate Republicans reach a compromise on the budget bills and finish their work.
Iowans currently have school choice. Any parent can decide how they want their child to be educated. The choices include home school, private school and public school. The issue is who should foot the bill. I have always believed that public dollars should be used to support our public schools. If parents choose to have their children home schooled or attend a private school, they should pay for that. Private schools can select who may attend their programs. Public schools cannot! Private schools can teach whatever they want with no public oversight. Public schools cannot. Private schools receive numerous tax breaks that provide their students scholarships to attend these private schools. Iowa currently has approximately 33,000 students who attend private schools. We have almost 500,000 public school students. I firmly believe public dollars should be used to support our public schools. It has been frustrating to see the decline in state support for our public schools over the years. We have always taken pride in the quality of our public schools and the teachers and staff who support our students. It is my hope that future elections will change the make-up of the legislature and allow us to return to the days when public schools were a top priority for all legislators.