The 2015 session is now a month in overtime and things are moving in the wrong direction.

Just as thousands of high school seniors celebrate graduation, school leaders are still trying to plan for the upcoming school year now just three months away. Unfortunately, they still don’t know how much money they will receive from the state.

Republicans have left our k-12 schools in budget limbo since last year and it’s doing more long-term damage to our schools every day it continues. Some schools are reducing teachers and staff while others are leaving key positions unfilled and hoping they’ll find a qualified educator to fill the spot after Republicans finally resolve the issue.

I know many school leaders are deeply concerned the crisis created by House Republicans will ultimately lead to a zero percent funding increase for our k-12 schools next year.

Unfortunately, they might be right. That’s because House Republicans rejected compromise again last week and then actually moved backwards in negotiations.

After voting down a fair 2.625% compromise on school funding for the upcoming school year, Republicans actually lowered their k-12 school funding offer for the 2016-2017 school year.  The move by Republicans means the gridlock will easily continue into June.  

I’ve been struck this year by just how far our k-12 schools have fallen on the priority list for House Republicans.

As we approach adjournment, I always expected the focus to return to k-12 schools because it’s always been a top priority for Iowans.

Instead, there’s been no action on k-12 school funding but House Republicans have found time to debate a bunch of other issues, including women’s health care and the Governor’s LGBTQ Conference that was held a few months ago.  

The most egregious example is a bill Republicans brought up last week to legalize fireworks.  Other than lobbyists, it’s an issue that doesn’t make the priority list for nearly anyone so why waste time debating it when our schools have been waiting a year and a half?

Time and time again this year, House Republicans have refused to compromise on school funding and focused on the wrong priorities.

I hope House Republicans notice the “Wrong Way” sign before it’s too late.

Contact Leader Mark Smith

Iowa Statehouse
Des Moines, IA 50319

PHONE: 515-281-3054