As we move toward the first funnel, we are busy with subcommittee and committee work. All bills must move through full committee in the House in order for them to be considered for floor debate this session. I am working on a lot of bills moving through Human Resources, Education and Transportation. Below, in the pictures, are a few of the subcommittees I chaired or served on this week.
Thursday, I was honored to co-host a Legislative Lunch for Iowa Women’s Foundation, which focused on Iowa’s child care crisis. It was great to see Elizabeth Stanek, from Fort Dodge, representing Linking Families and Communities. It’s wonderful to have her as a resource on this important issue.
Thursday afternoon, I served on the subcommittee for HSB 587, the State Supplemental Aid funding for schools in FY 2021. Our plan provides an additional $107.75 million in new funding for the 2020-2021 school year.
For supplemental state aid (SSA), the House plan provides a 2.5 percent increase next year. This increases state funding by $94.7 million, raising the state aid appropriation to $3.386 billion in Fiscal Year 2021.
Additionally, House Republicans will continue to build upon the promise to help rural schools with additional funding for transportation needs. It was House Republicans who developed the initial plan to help relieve the budget pressure high transportation costs place on rural schools two years ago.
The goal has been to make sure that school districts’ contributions to these costs do not exceed the statewide average for transportation costs. With this year’s House Republican plan, that goal is met. In the 2020-2021 school year, the state will contribute $26.25 million towards school transportation costs. This amounts to a $7.25 million increase in the state’s share. 204 school districts are projected to receive these funds.
This effort has resulted in widespread support from school administrators. Last fall Emily Piper, a lobbyist for the Iowa Association of School Boards, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “This is really making a difference in how much (districts) can budget and how much money they can put into the classroom.”
Ensuring funding equity for every public school student is another focus of the House Republican proposal. Beginning in 2018, the state started raising the minimum per student funding level in order to close the $175 per student gap between school districts. The House Republican plan calls for adding an additional $10 this year to the per student funding level. This will impact 195 schools throughout the state.
Both the school transportation costs and the per pupil equity funding are in House Study Bill 594 in the House Appropriations Committee.
Overall, the House Republican school funding plan means state funding to Iowa schools has risen $968.1 million since Fiscal Year 2011. That amounts to an increase of almost 40 percent over the decade, a commitment that shows Iowans that House Republicans have kept K-12 education as a central priority. House Republicans can also definitively say that they have fully funded every K-12 education funding promise we have made each year in the majority. K-12 funding has protected from any reductions during revenue downswings.