While refusing to take action to set basic state aid for public schools as required by state law, Iowa House Republicans are moving a bill to provide a new $207 million appropriation to home schools and private schools.
“It’s stunning that House Republicans refuse to increase support for our public schools but believe home schools and private schools should get an additional $207 million,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City, who is Ranking Member of the House Education Committee. “Republicans clearly have the wrong priorities in education.
By law, the Iowa Legislature is to act by February 13 and set basic state aid for public schools. The Iowa Senate has approved a 6% increase for the 2015-2016 school year, which is $196.3 million. House Republicans want to delay action on school aid.
“House Republicans can’t claim it’s irresponsible to set school aid for public schools then set aside over $200 million for private schools and home schools instead,” added Steckman. “Iowans have a right to make their own school choice, but our role in the Iowa Legislature is to provide the best public education possible.”
House File 2090 directs Iowa to give the same per pupil funding for public schools to private schools and home schools. According to estimates from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the bill would cost the state about $207 million annually. There are about 37,000 students that attend private schools or home schools. Iowa has 479,000 public school students.
House File 2090 was approved by a subcommittee of Rep. Quintin Stanerson, R-Linn County, and Rep. Greg Forristall, R- Pottawattamie County. The bill can now be considered by the House Education Committee.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, Rep. Pete Cownie, R-West Des Moines, and Rep. Jake Highfill, R-Johnston.