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Sunday Talk: Rowley on a Busy Iowa Senate Week

This week was extremely busy with debate as well as advancing the Governor’s appointees out of standing committees. I am also in the process of reviewing the appropriation budget bills that relate to the total state budget, and more specifically, the Administration and Regulations appropriations for state departments and agencies. These bills are being worked on and will be going to the floor soon for debate and passage. The legislature’s goal is to conclude sine die on April 16th, which is our 100th day.

On Thursday Senate Republicans released their total general fund spending goal for next FY 2025. The general fund target is $8.872 billion. This is a 3.74% increase over FY 2024. The budget includes an increase of $223.2 million dollars in new money for K-12 education. This is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars of new money including $172 million in funding for K-12 schools as a result of the 2.5% State Supplemental Aid. It also includes a new minimum starting teacher pay approved earlier this week in HF 2612. There is also an additional $51.25 million in new money for ESAs for the total of $223.2 million.

Let’s breakdown the bill, House File 2612, that the Republican majority passed and was signed into law by Governor Reynolds. Under the bill, the minimum teacher salary is raised to $47,500 in the first year. Then next year the minimum teacher salary will be increased to $50,000. For teachers who have 12 years of experience the minimum salary is $60,000 in the first year and $62,000 in the following years. For education this boost in salaries is the largest increase for teachers in the history of Iowa. This increase in pay positions Iowa as the fifth highest in the nation for teacher salaries. While in debate Senate Republicans were accused once again of “underfunding” education but I would argue that the facts clearly get in the way. This year our state spending on education will be approximately $3.8 billion for Iowa’s public schools.

AEA reform was also a part of the final version of HF 2612. The AEA portion of this bill empowers local schools with new options, and a significant increase in local control over funding for special education, media, and education services. It was a compromise between the Senate, the House, and Governor Reynolds and it was heavily debated. Throughout the debate no one questioned the AEAs’ expertise and professionalism in providing vital services for Iowa students needing special education.

This coming year AEAs will retain full flow-through funding amounts for special education support services as they have for the last several decades. AEAs will receive 40% of the funding for media and educational services in the first year. In year two, 100% of media and educational services funding will stay with the local school districts. However, school districts have the option to continue using AEAs for those services. School districts also have the opportunity to consider other options, to provide the best services for their teachers and students. In year two school districts will receive all of the special education funds but be required to spend at least 90% with the AEA. The goal of reform in this area is to get more out of the services provided to those students who need it. To build on these services in a more collaborative manner by improving accountability and transparency.

I want to take this moment to wish you all a very blessed and Happy Easter this weekend. May peace be with you, and your families in faith and comfort.
The best way to contact me is email at [email protected] or by cell at (712) 330-5596. Have a great week!

Senator Dave Rowley, District 5
Serving: Clay (Partial), Dickinson, Emmet, Palo Alto, Kossuth and Winnebago

A visit from Spirit Lake High School’s government class, along with Senate Page Teegan Jones (left front), a SLHS student.

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