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School Choice Returns to the Floor of the Iowa Legislature

'School choice' to be Iowa Governor's major agenda item for '23 Legislature

On Monday, the 2023 Iowa legislature will convene, and Governor Kim Reynolds has made it clear she’ll ask lawmakers to pass what she calls “school choice.”

Reynolds said during an online forum in December. Over the past two years, Reynolds has proposed a limited number of state scholarships for parents who enroll their child in a private school, but she’s now calling for every parent to be able to get state money to cover private school expenses for their child.

The previous proposals Reynolds made did not have enough Republican votes to pass in the Iowa House. Last June, the governor backed GOP primary candidates who defeated a few Republicans who were “no” votes. House Speaker Pat Grassley says he’s optimistic something will pass in 2023.

Grassley has created an education reform committee that will consider the governor’s new plan, whatever it may be.

Grassley says there’s a general blueprint, though.

Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver says he expects the governor to unveil a “substantial” proposal this month.

Whitver continued.

Senate Republicans passed the governor’s more limited private school scholarship plans in 2021 and 2022. Democrats in the House and Senate oppose spending more state tax dollars on private schools. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says the idea is of grave concern to rural residents.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says 42 of Iowa’s 99 counties do not have a private school, so most rural families wouldn’t benefit from the governor’s plan.

Governor Reynolds will deliver the annual “Condition of the State” address on Tuesday, January 10th and she may unveil her major policy ideas during the speech.

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