Legislators at odds over school funding

Two local Democratic legislators believe in a 6 percent increase in school funding, also known as allowable growth.

An area Republican legislator feels that number is a little too high.

The Iowa Senate, including Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, approved the 6 percent increase in per pupil funding from the state to school districts.

Sodders said Iowa is ranked 37th in the nation in per pupil funding. He said in a state that touts education as a priority this isn’t acceptable.

“We feel that’s important,” Sodders said.

Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, has supported the same 6 percent in the Iowa House, where it was not approved by the Republican majority.

“I’m going to keep working this session to set state funding for schools and do what’s best for Iowa children,” Smith said.

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, said the House Republicans will most likely target an allowable growth number less than 6 percent. With the implementation of costly reforms such as education and property tax reform and the expected lower state revenues due to lower grain prices, he doesn’t want to let state spending get out of control.

“We’ve just got to be careful,” Fisher said.

There is another issue with school state spending as House Republicans want to change the law requiring when state aid needs to be set for the following year. State law requires it be done within the first 30 days of each session, which has already passed.

“The schools need to know what their funding is,” Sodders said.

Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or apotter@timesrepublican.com