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Opinion

Priorities made and promises kept

As week five came to a close, we have been busy working to get our bills through the legislative process. With the increase in subcommittee meetings, there are bills on a variety of issues at the capitol. Last week my primary focus was on establishing supplemental state aid for K-12 public schools. Because of that work, our first floor vote this legislative session was to provide Iowa public schools with nearly $46 million in new money for the 2019 fiscal year.

The increase includes an additional $32 million in supplemental state aid, which brings the allocation of state general fund dollars for K-12 education to more than $3.21 billion. That is nearly 44 percent of the state budget. This amount is a responsible and sustainable commitment school officials can depend upon as they begin working through their budgeting process. Many times in the past, legislators have over-promised on its resources to schools only to under-deliver in the long run, wreaking havoc on the budget of our Iowa school districts. We are committed to setting a number which we can maintain.

This bill, House File 2230, also works to address the inequities that exist within our funding formula. In addition to addressing SSA for our K-12 schools, we have devoted $14 million to buy down the transportation and district cost per pupil inequities that have existed in the formula for decades.

More work must be done before this funding is finalized. So while the voting process to approve the funding hasn’t completed, I don’t expect any major changes to the bottom line.

Supplemental state aid is just one funding mechanism for public schools. Senate Republicans have worked to give schools more flexibility with their funds so our districts and school boards can make the best decisions on how to utilize their resources.

A student’s zip code should not determine the quality of education available. Our vote this week on this important education funding bill will work to help level that playing field and increase the opportunities available to Iowa students.

Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) represents Senate District 14, including areas of Jasper, Marion Lucas, Clarke, Decatur and Wayne counties.
Contact her at 641-870-0199 or amy.sinclair@legis.iowa.gov.
 

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