School funding bill is rushed through Senate

Tod Bowman
Iowa State Senator, 29th Dist.

     Last week, the main focus was on State Supplemental Aid for schools. The Republicans used an unusual tactic.

     On Monday afternoon, Jan. 30, Senate Republicans introduced Senate File 166, which would increase school funding by 1.11 percent for the 2017-18 school year. That is half of the proposed increase by the Branstad-Reynolds Administration.

     Senate Republicans chose to skip the subcommittee process and decided to go straight to the standing committee. By doing this, the chairperson shut out the public and did not take the time to talk to any superintendents to learn what effect this funding would have on student learning opportunities in their district.

     As soon as I heard about their intentions, I sent out an e-mail to all school superintendents within my senate district. I wanted to know the impact the proposal would have on students so that I could speak on their behalf.

     The Senate Education Committee blocked a full discussion that included the public. Even the Senators were blocked from speaking on the bill. I was not able to speak on behalf of my constituents about how this bill will affect the quality of our children’s education. I believe this is a poor way of legislating, and it prohibits me from properly representing the 60,000 people in Senate District 29.

     In the Senate Transportation Committee, we approved two bills. SSB 1003 allows primary road funds that come from the federal government to be used—or swapped—for secondary road dollars. This matters because federal dollars come with specific criteria for how they can be used. Another bill, SSB 1019, would improve due process and uniformity in how automated traffic enforcement cameras are operated across Iowa.

     I look forward to hearing your input on these and other upcoming issues. The cutoff date for action on bills that haven’t passed committee is coming soon.


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