Under the Golden Dome, Too – January 23

Upmeyer UTGD

Week two of the legislative session is under our belts and our committees have quickly gotten down to business.

One of the issues we committed to addressing immediately when this legislative session began, was the amount of funding that will be provided to our K-12 schools for the 2015-2016 school year. This week, the House Education Committee passed legislation that makes a significant investment in K-12 education, while adhering to our core budgeting principles.

HF 80 increases the amount of funding for our schools by $47.7 million. With the passage of this bill, funding for K-12 will have increased by approximately $570 million over the last five years. This is a 22% increase in funding to our schools. When combined with the $50 million in new Teacher Leadership compensation, we are committing nearly $100 million in new funding to schools this year.

When I visit with you, I hear that education is a priority. You can see our investment reflects this sentiment. During the 2015-2016 school year, Iowa taxpayers will provide in excess of $10,000 per K-12 student. The state’s share of education funding is at its highest level in the last 30 years.

Making this commitment is significant, but it is not easy. The Revenue Estimating Conference predicts we will have $200 million available in new revenue this year. We are starting off this session by committing roughly $100 million of this to K-12 education. In order to do this, and fund our ever-increasing Medicaid obligations, we are going to have to find efficiencies and cuts in other areas.

I am proud that we are making education a priority and it is important to continue to commit these resources, but it is also important to continue to focus on student achievement. We need to come together at the local level and the state level to prepare our students for tomorrow’s workforce. The resources are there, the commitment is there, now we need to focus on better equipping our students to best compete in the global economy.

Thank you for sending me your feedback over the past couple of weeks. It’s always great to hear from you and I appreciate the time you take to let me know your thoughts. If you will be in the Des Moines area over the next couple of months, please stop by to visit. You can always contact me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.