Under the Golden Dome

Carrie Koelker
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

Reliable Funding for K-12 Education

     This week, the Senate passed SF 269, approving additional education funding for the next school year. This bill allocates an additional $45.2 million for K-12 education in the fall. It appropriates money for a regular increase in education spending, for costs schools have incurred for in-person learning throughout the last several months, and for per pupil and transportation equity.

     The pandemic has posed many challenges, and education is our state is no different. Iowa’s education spending formula depends on the number of students enrolled in school, and with thousands of families keeping their kids home, the potential effect for future budget years could create compounding funding challenges. SF 269 allocates a sustainable amount of funding for this year and future budget years in anticipation of enrollment returning to normal next year.

     Education spending is one of the biggest allocations of dunging we make during the legislative session. Iowa spending $3.5 billion on K-12 education in our state. In total, the average amount spent on Iowa students for their education annually is $14,000. Like other education bills we have talked about this year, there have been a number of unsubstantiated claims with this bill and education funding. K-12 education has been fully funded while Republicans have been in the control of the budget. There have been no cuts throughout these last several years, but the false accusations claim differently. We have promised and delivered every single dollar. For the last five years, we have passed sustainable and reliable budgets for the state, education funding included. This practice has put our state in a strong financial position through the pandemic. Despite a decline of hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue, every promise made to education funding was kept. This budget commitment will ensure promises to Iowa schools continue to be kept.

     I’m a graduate and proud supporter of our public school system. I respect and appreciate everyone’s opinion and the time they take to write to me, but some facts need to be made clear. The teacher’s unions are not sharing the facts and are feeding their members with false information. There is no other line items in the state budget that has continued to receive an increase of more than $300 million in the past three years, and my vote clearly showcases my support of our public school system.

     I am confident Iowans recognize our positive support for K-12 education. I do appreciate the schools and numerous leaders that are appreciative and have mutually respectful dialogue. My friends and family work hard in the public school system, so I see first-hand how instrumental they are in the life of a child.

Life Amendment Passes Committee

     This week the Iowa Senate passed SJR 2 out of committee. It is an amendment to the Iowa Constitution stating the highest state law is neutral on the issue of abortion.

     One of the reasons the issue of abortion is so volatile is because so much policy around it has been decided by unelected judges instead of the people through their elected leaders. As a result, many people who strongly believe the unborn child is a baby entitled to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, feel they have limited recourse on issues like public funding of abortion and late-term procedures.

     This scenario played out in Iowa. For unelected members of the Iowa Supreme Court heard a challenge to the state’s law requiring a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion with no foundation other than the opinion of those four judges. Many Iowans rejected not only this policy, but also the process by which it was implemented.

     Iowa has a clear process in place to amend its constitution. The exact same language must pass both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in consecutive General Assemblies, notice must be made of the proposed amendment between General Assemblies, and the people of Iowa must ratify that proposed language in a statewide election. That process is the appropriate way to amend the constitution, precisely because that method is how the constitution itself prescribes an amendment be made. It is a process full of public involvement and accountability. Ultimately, every Iowa voter has a say over changes to the constitution, instead of only four unelected people in a courtroom in Des Moines.

     This amendment will likely be debated on the floor later this session. It will be an early step to amending the Iowa Constitution in the way prescribed by law and not by judicial fiat. With the eventual adoption of this language, policy on abortion will be determined by the people of Iowa through their elected representatives and not through unelected judges. The people of Iowa deserve to make this decision.


Subscriber Login