Inadequate funding, unfunded mandates, renewed efforts to shift public dollars away from public schools. Higher tuition at our community colleges and public universities.
Walt and the Republicans have made it clear that public education is not a priority to them.
Supplemental State Aid (Allowable Growth)
Supplemental State Aid is one area of funding from the state for our public schools. Supplemental State Aid (SSA) makes up on average 55% of a district's overall budget and has a direct impact on your property tax rate.
Until this year, Iowa law required SSA to be set in the year prior to the fiscal year it would go into effect. (So SSA for the 2017-2018 school year, should have been set in 2016.) This ensured the education budgets remained the first priority and gave school districts the ability of long term planning.
For more than 7 years the Republican controlled House prevented this from happening. After gaining control of both chambers this year one of the first things Walt and the Republicans did was to remove this requirement from the law.
The increase to SSA over the last 9 years has been the lowest on record. Lower even than during this area's economic uncertainty of the 80s farm crisis.
Walt and the Republicans: Refusing to follow the law. Refusing to properly fund our public schools
Education Savings Accounts (Vouchers)
Supplemental State Aid (Allowable Growth)
During the 2017 session of the Iowa legislature we heard much talk of a bill to create Education Savings Accounts, or vouchers that would give Iowa's per pupil tax money to students' parents. This money could then be used to pay for private school, parochial school, or even home schooling. By Rogers' own estimates this would take $240 million over the first three years and then $240 million every year after that. It is estimated that $185 million of that will be diverted from public schools. Though that price tag may be part of the reason no bill was passed this year, Representative Rogers has already made clear that he will be pushing for ESAs again next session.
Dwindling Support for Higher Education
This year seemed a particularly difficult one for higher education funding, especially the University of Northern Iowa. In December of 2016 the Regents had approved a plan that would cap tuition increases at 2% each year for 2 years as long as appropriations from the legislature would increase by that same amount. Instead, revenue shortfalls caused lawmakers to cut the universities budgets by $20.75 million for the 2016/2017 fiscal year. Millions more in cuts for the fiscal year that began on July 1st sent the universities scrambling to re-assess the tuition rates. The Regents' Tuition Task Force met several times over the summer before hearing from the presidents of each institution this fall. The University of Iowa and Iowa State have proposed 7 percent increases each year for the next 5 years, resulting in an almost 40% increase in tuition by 2022. The University of Northern Iowa will seek to increase their tuition rates by 5% each year for the next 5 years. After years of work to help Iowa's students graduate with smaller debt, this is a huge step backward.
Community colleges were not spared either. Though Hawkeye Community College received a $111,000 increase in appropriations for the 2017/18 fiscal year they lost $320,000 in the 2 state deappropriations at the end of the last fiscal year. To make up for the shortages, the Hawkeye Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase of 5.56%.
Privatizing the state's medicaid system, refusing federal funds to help provide healthcare coverage for Iowa's most vulnerable citizens, a transition that has seen providers closing their doors after late or refused payments from the managed care companies. These changes have put too many Iowans at risk.
All Iowans should be able to receive the healthcare they need.
Keep watching this space to find out how you can help.
Dismantling Iowa's Chapter 20 Collective Bargaining laws and eliminating legal protections that had served workers and our state well for over 40 years. A determination to make changes to the IPERS system, affecting the retirement of hundreds of thousands of public workers. Prohibiting local governments from making their own decisions on minimum wage levels. 2017 was a devastating year for worker's rights in the Iowa Legislature.
Democrats will continue the fight to restore workers' rights in Iowa. Keep watching this space to learn how you can help.
Environmental programs and water quality concerns must be addressed and properly funded.