HOUSE REPUBLICANS SINK ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO INCREASE SCHOOL BUDGETS
3:02 PM, Apr 13, 2011 | by Jason Clayworth |
Categories: Iowa Politics Insider
A Democratic attempt to allow school budgets to grow by 2 percent was rejected again today by Republicans in a showdown that both sides say will likely become a pivotal campaign issue in 2012.
Democrats requested the House suspend rules so that House File 185 – a bill that would allow schools to increase their upcoming budgets by 2 percent – could be considered.
Republicans defeated the request, which failed on a 40 to 56 vote.
“We’re kicking the kid down the road,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City who requested the bill be considered. “School systems are cutting teachers, cutting staff and raising class sizes. They have no idea what to plan for next year.”
The issue centers upon a term commonly known as allowable growth. It is essentially a cost-of-living adjustment to the per-pupil cost. In the nearly 40-year history of the school-aid formula, schools have always received some amount of growth.
Republicans, including Gov. Terry Branstad, have called for a zero percent growth for each of the next two years. Senate Democrats have insisted on 2 percent in the upcoming year.
But the 2 percent proposal, which the Senate insisted as part of House File 185, will die and zero percent will be adopted if no action is taken by the House.
The consequences of the possible three-year stagnant $5,883 per pupil spending limitation: Inflationary costs for such things as transportation and salary increases for staff must be absorbed by the current level of spending.
That would mean job and program cuts as well as fee and tax increases, according to the majority of respondents in the Senate Democratic survey in which 259 of Iowa’s 358 districts responded. More than 80 percent of those that responded said they were considering teacher layoffs.
Schools must certify their budgets for the upcoming school year with the Iowa Department of Education by Friday at midnight. Schools that plan to eliminate staff must notify them by the 30th of this month.
Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia and the chairman of the House Education Committee, said it would be pointless to debate the bill.
“The governor is going to veto anything other than zero percent,” Forristall said. “If we bring it up they will just sit there and talk all day and run the amendment for 2 percent. It’s just a waste of time.”