Another busy week in the Iowa House of Representatives!
We held our first major floor action of the session on Monday afternoon and debated a supplemental appropriation bill for the current fiscal year. This was my first opportunity to manage the chamber during debate as Speaker. Thankfully, everything went well, the bill was widely bipartisan, and it passed on a unanimous 100-0 vote. I am hopeful that things continue this way!
The major component of our supplemental bill is funding for flood recovery. Last spring, southwest Iowa and eastern Iowa around the Quad Cities were devastated by significant flooding. The Legislature responded by passing a flood relief package that would help address immediate needs in impacted areas.
Unfortunately, folks living in these areas are still struggling to recover and with the threat of more flooding on the way, we passed an additional $21 million in flood aid. We worked closely with the Flood Mitigation Board to identify critical projects that need to be completed as soon as possible to come up with the $21 million. These dollars will provide impacted areas with some much-needed support before possible spring flooding.
The House also debated and passed our K-12 funding package this week. The plan passed by the House provides schools with an additional $108 million next school year with resources targeted to general aid, rural school transportation costs, and per pupil equity. This plan is in line with what the Governor has proposed and is a serious commitment to Iowa’s schools.
We are continuing to work with the Senate to find an agreement and get this bill down to the Governor for her signature as soon as possible.
Since 2011, funding for K-12 has increased $863 million to an all-time record of $3.3 billion annually. This has resulted in Iowa having the #1 graduation rate and average ACT scores in the country. Our schools have been able to hire an additional 3,500 full-time teachers and class sizes are decreasing. Iowa teacher pay is some of the most competitive in the entire country, which will help our schools as they face a shortage of educators.
These are all great accomplishments. One thing I am particularly proud of is that since Republicans came back into the majority, we have never cut funding for schools and have always followed through on the commitments that we’ve made. School boards and administrators know that they can count on House Republican to keep a promise.