If you were convinced that the ceiling was falling in on education spending in Iowa over the past several years, it’s not surprising, given the rhetoric that has been passed around in debate.  Legislative Democrats spend hours on the House and Senate floors lamenting the historic increases that House Republicans put forward year after year, claiming over and over again that it’s not enough, schools need more.  They point to other states spending on education as examples of where we should be.  But a new report that was released this week proved that it is Iowa other states should be looking to as an example.

The article detailed the report (from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, CBPP), titled “A punishing decade for school funding,” focuses on the “dramatically” declining public investment in schools across the county over the past decade.  The data points to the year 2015 when 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in pre-recession 2008.

But where does Iowa fall in this range?  4th best in the nation, with an increase of 20.6% in total state funding per student, inflation adjusted.

This isn’t new information from the CBPP.  Iowa has shown this recover in several of the Center’s previous reports reviewing this data.

The legislature continued school funding increases this year with a $40 million investment, despite a very tough fiscal year.  House Republicans, along with Gov. Branstad, committed to keeping the promise to fund schools with new money despite the need for reductions in many other areas of state government.  In fact, when state revenues fell again shortly after the legislature set the $40 million, House budget committees worked hard to find the savings in other areas to prevent backing up on that increase.

The results?  Combining this new funding increase for school districts, the state has now increased school funding by over $730 million over the past 7 years.  Teacher leadership funds are delineated separately due the unique nature of its interaction with school funding overall and to provide clarity to the conversation.


Fiscal Year  (school year) Percent Growth State Cost Per Pupil State Spending Increase TLC Increase
FY12  (11/12) 0% $5883 $178 million  
FY13  (12/13) 2% $6001 $29.2 million  
FY14  (13/14) 2% + 2% one-time $6121 $63.2 million + $57 million  
FY15  (14/15) 4% $6366 $148.6 million  
FY16  (15/16) 1.25% $6446 $37.2 million $50.2 million
FY17  (16/17) 2.25% $6591 $81.8 million $53.3 million
  6-yr total increase   $641.5 million + $57 million
FY18  (17/18) 1.11% $6664 $39.9 million $54.0 million
  7-yr total increase   $735.4 million + $57 million


State investment in general K-12 education has increased from $2.446 billion in FY11 to $3.183 billion in FY18, a 30% increase.

House Republicans are proud of the investment the state has continued to make in our state’s schools.  It’s been sustainable and reliable and has kept Iowa towards the front of the pack nationwide.

To see the full report, visit:  https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/a-punishing-decade-for-school-funding