Democrats critical of Branstad education funding plan
DES MOINES | The Iowa House Democratic leader on Thursday said Republican Gov. Terry Branstad “should be embarrassed” for seeking a 9.1 percent increase to fund his office while offering less than 1 percent more for schools.
"Budgets are more than just numbers; they reflect our priorities. It's clear the governor's biggest priority is himself," said Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, in a statement.
Branstad recommended an extra $200,000 for "increased day-to-day operational expenses” of the Governor's Office in his budget request.
Democrats say the governor’s plan offers $29 million more in supplemental state aid to operate K-12 schools next fiscal year when teacher leadership and education reform dollars are removed from his $50 million proposal for education.
Senate Democrats are leaning toward seeking a 6 percent boost in K-12 education funding for fiscal 2016 – the same level they tried unsuccessfully to get approved last session.
Iowa law requires lawmakers to set funding for schools within 30 days after the governor submits a budget plan.
Branstad defended the funding commitment to increase state funding by 5 percent beginning July 1. He said his biennial budget requested about $320 million in overall education spending over the next two fiscal years.
“You’ve got to look at the whole picture with what we’re doing for education and just not one piece of it,” Branstad said. “We’re investing in improving the skills of our teachers to improve the achievement of Iowa students and we’re doing it in a very thoughtful, systematic way over a period of years. I feel good about that.”