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Iowa governor signs $36.5 million increase in state aid to schools

Iowa governor signs $36.5 million increase in state aid to schools

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds listens during a meeting to discuss Downtown Davenport Partnership at Hotel Blackhawk Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Davenport.

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed an education funding package that will pump $36.5 million more into Iowa’s K-12 school system.

In a signing statement, the Republican governor said the measures that will increase supplemental state aid to Iowa’s 327 school districts. It includes money to address equity and transportation issues that will boost per-pupil funding by $179 to $7,227 for fiscal 2022. Senate File 269, she said, demonstrates the support from her administration and legislative Republicans for public school students.

“Our children are our greatest asset and we have to do everything we can to set them up for success,” Reynolds said. “Our record of increasing school funding year-over-year shows our commitment to Iowa’s public schools.”

The increase comes on top of the $3.381 billion the state spent on elementary and secondary schools, or $7,048 per pupil in state supplemental aid to help cover instructional costs.

However, legislative Democrats argued that at a time when the state has a budget surplus it can afford to do more than a 2.4 percent increase.

They cited research showing that Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota, Michigan and Nebraska invest more money per pupil than Iowa.

“Under Republican leadership, public school funding in Iowa has failed to keep up with a rising cost of living four of the past five years,” House and Senate Minority Leaders Todd Prichard of Charles City and Zach Wahls of Coralville, respectively, wrote in an op-ed.

The plan just signed into law will provide less state funding for 137 Iowa school districts than the state did in 2021. That will trigger higher local property taxes. Wahls and Prichard called that “unacceptable.”

Reynolds also signed SF 284, a $21 million general fund appropriation to cover the cost of purchasing a Workday computer system after the U.S. Treasury rejected her use of federal CARES Act funds to pay for the replacement of an antiquated human resources and finance computer equipment.

The system is costing the state $10 million a year to operate and maintain, according to legislators, and the new system — at a total cost of $50 million — will save the state about $5 million a year.

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