Taylor claims to have cast deciding vote on school aid bill
DES MOINES — State Sen. Rich Taylor, D-Mt. Pleasant, in a press release, claims to have cast the deciding vote Wednesday, which approved a 4-percent increase in local school funding.
Senate Files 52 and 51 passed by votes of 26-23. Taylor also said he successfully voted for additional state dollars to prevent any related property tax increase.
The 4-percent increase equals the 40-year average increase in investment in local schools, Taylor commented.
A school aid funding bill still must be approved by the House and signed by the governor. At last Saturday’s legislative briefing in Mt. Pleasant, area legislators said Gov. Terry Branstad favors scrapping allowable growth funding to schools. Indications from the House are that a 4-percent funding bill will not pass that chamber.
If schools were to receive 4-percent allowable growth in fiscal 2014, area schools would receive the following in basic school aid, according to the Legislative Service Agency:
Mt. Pleasant, $16,685,869; New London, $4,473,442; WACO, $4,479,941; Winfield-Mt. Union, $3,192,017.
“The recession has meant some lean years for Iowa’s schools,” Taylor said. “Now it’s time to invest again in student achievement and bring financial stability back to school budgets. This vote was for the dollars that pay the teachers, buy up-to-date textbooks, keep the lights on and put gas in the buses.”
State law requires the Legislature to determine local school funding a full 18 months in advance. The law is intended to help schools plan and make the best use of available resources.
A recent survey of Iowa superintendents found that 87 percent believe the “allowable growth” number must be set by March 1 or earlier to avoid teacher layoffs, crowded classes and other damage to school achievement.
Last year, the Iowa Senate voted four times on the issue. The Iowa House, however, failed to consider the legislation, thus creating the current uncertainty for local districts, Taylor claimed. If the Legislature and governor, Taylor added, fail to come to agreement, schools must assume there will be no additional investment in education.
“High-quality local schools are key to creating a high wage, high skill state economy,” Taylor remarked. “While other states are cutting school budgets, Iowa has the resources to invest in our young people, something that has always paid off for us in the past.”
Iowa school districts received a 2 percent increase in allowable growth last year and 0 percent in 2011.