Broadening the Conversation on K-12

Education for Iowa’s children has always been one of our top priorities.  Last session, we broadened the conversation on education to topics other than the annual discussion over funding.  We increased investment in K-12, provided more flexibility, and put more decision making in the hands of locally elected school boards and administrators.  House Republicans will continue efforts to provide a world-class education for Iowa’s students and modernize our K-12 system for the 21st century.

Funding

Iowa is a leader in K-12 education funding, investing an additional $735 million since 2011.  These investments have brought total annual spending on K-12 to nearly $3.2 billion, accounting for 45% of the state’s entire budget.  Iowa is fourth in the nation in K-12 funding increases.

We have continually made K-12 education funding a top priority for the state.  While other areas of the state budget have seen reductions in recent years, House Republicans have protected schools from any cuts during this time.

More Flexibility and Local Control

Last session, I personally led the fight to pass legislation that gave schools unprecedented flexibility over their resources and home rule authority.

We will continue to look for opportunities to provide schools with even more funding flexibility so districts can better meet the specific needs of their students and teachers.  We also believe that local control is crucial in education and will continue to empower locally-elected school boards so they can innovate and govern their schools in a way that is best for them.

Future Ready Iowa

With Iowa’s unemployment rate at a 17 year low, most Iowans that want a job have found one.  However, what we have heard is that while unemployment is low, many Iowans lack the training or experience needed for high-paying careers that employers are trying to fill.

We will be looking for opportunities this session to connect our K-12 schools with community colleges and local businesses to create a workforce pipeline across the entire state.

Governor Reynolds has said that building a skilled and prepared workforce is her top priority this session and has proposed the Future Ready Iowa Act.  She has set a goal for 70% of Iowa’s workforce to earn some sort of postsecondary degree or certification by 2025.

The Future Ready Iowa Act will help reach this goal and We will be working closely with Governor Reynolds to ensure that future generations of Iowans are prepared for the careers and emerging industries of tomorrow.

SAVE Fund 

House Republicans will also have a discussion this session about reauthorizing the SAVE penny that schools use for infrastructure.  SAVE was passed by the Legislature in 2008 which provided schools with much needed funding for infrastructure improvements.  We will be working with local school boards and administrators to determine appropriate uses of the fund.

Don’t Believe the Hype on IPERS

Don’t listen to fear mongering scare tactics.  There will be no changes to IPERS this session.

This week, the House State Government Committee met and received an update from IPERS officials.  With over 355,000 IPERS members and an 81.4% funded ratio, IPERS is well-managed and remains one of the most sound pension systems in the entire country.

House Republicans would never do anything that jeopardizes the retirement security of Iowans.

IPERS beneficiaries should also be thankful with the boom in the stock market that has occurred since President Trump took office.  Between June 30, 2016-June 30, 2017, IPERS assets grew by $2.44 billion, about $203.3 million in growth per month.  During the previous two years, they only grew by $290 million, $12.1 million per month.

** Walt, sitting in the Speaker of the House chair on Wednesday morning to gavel in the assembly for the day. **