SUNDAY TALK: Upmeyer on the Fifth Week of the Legislature

This week the Capitol was busier than ever with groups from all over Iowa, educating members on bills they do (or do not) support. Sub-committees are being held to prepare for the first funnel week (more about that topic next week.) It is great to see such participation in this process.

The House held its first floor debate of the session this week, passing three important pieces of legislation to support Iowa’s K-12 schools and victims of significant flooding across the state.
Legislature Provides Support for Flood Recovery
Last spring, much of the state was devastated by significant flooding, particularly in southwest Iowa and eastern Iowa around the Quad Cities. The Legislature acted quickly last session, providing $25 million in flood recovery aid: $15 million for immediate flood relief and $10 million in housing tax credits to rebuild homes.
Since the Legislature adjourned last year, it has become clear that additional support is needed to help these communities recover.
This week, the House passed a supplemental appropriation bill that will provide impacted communities with an additional $21 million for flood recovery. Legislators worked closely with the Flood Mitigation Board to identify critical projects that need investment before more flooding occurs this spring.
House Republicans will continue to stand at the ready and be prepared to act later this session if needed.
House Passes K-12 Education Funding Package
This week, the House debated and passed out the K-12 funding proposal from House Republicans, following through on the promise to take action on school funding within the first 30 days. We will continue to work with the Senate to come to an agreement as soon as possible so that schools can finalize their budgets for the upcoming year.
The House plan invests an additional $108 million in new money into Iowa schools including:

  • $94.7 million in general aid
  • $7.65 million for rural school transportation costs
  • $5.8 million to reduce per pupil inequity by $10 per student

Democrats spoke about “historically low funding levels” being provided to K-12 education over the last decade, but nothing is further from the truth. About 43% of Iowa’s budget goes towards K-12 education, by far the biggest priority. Since 2011, investment in K-12 has increased by $863 million to an all-time high of nearly $3.3 billion. This represents an increase of 34.4% while inflation has risen just 13.5% over the same time.
House Republicans strong record of support for Iowa schools has resulted in:

  • The #1 graduation rate and average ACT scores in the country
  • 3,500 new full-time teachers staffing Iowa classrooms
  • Smaller class sizes even with growing enrollment
  • Competitive teacher pay that ranks among the best in the nation

School funding has never been cut since Republicans have controlled the House. When we make a funding commitment, we follow through. Even in difficult budget years where budget adjustments had to be made, K-12 schools were held harmless from reductions. This wasn’t always the case in past years, most notably, in FY10 when Democrats cut schools by 10% due to poor budget management.
I am happy with the direction the Iowa Legislature and the state of Iowa are headed. I would once again like to thank all of my constituents back home who have allowed me the privilege and honor to serve as their voice in the Iowa House.

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