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Legislative Report (Vol XXIV No.1) Jan 10th, 2005 Governor Calls For Increased Education Funding

January 21, 2005

Governor Thomas Vilsack delivered his State of the State address on Tuesday devoting a great portion of it to educational issues. The exact requests of the Governor will not be known until he submits his budget later this month. We do know however that his budget will call for an increase in educational funding. At a pre-speech meeting on Monday Vilsack met with educational representatives, including AEAs, and said that his budget will include increases for all of the educational entities. We do know from his speech the following:

  • Education Spending
    Called for the state to fully-fund allowable growth and double the commitment to the teacher quality program.
  • Expanding Access to Preschool
    Vilsack said that the state needs to greatly improve the opportunity for young children to attend quality pre-schools. As recommended by the Iowa Learns Council, he proposed spending an additional $39.1 million on pre-school education. Vilsack said that spending on early childhood programs and pre-school programs offer the state far greater returns than the expense, and will help improve the educational performance of children in later years.
  • High Schools
    Vilsack said that the state needs to establish a tougher graduation standard and help the smaller districts, which may have the most difficulty in hiring additional math and science teachers, improve schools through sharing administrators, sharing whole grades, and school consolidation.

It is believed that in addition to calling for a four percent allowable growth for 2006-07 the Governor will also request an additional two percent for the teacher compensation funding. Part of that funding will probably be directed toward providing two additional contract days for teacher staff development.

We do not know what role the AEAs will asked to play under the Governor’s proposals, but must assume that their will be a role in the professional development and/or pre-school initiative.

Growth Factor To Be Debated

The House Education committee next Tuesday will debate HF 1, which establishes a four percent Growth factor for 2006-07. There is a possibility that it will be debated on the full floor prior to the end of the week. This is a departure from the past few years when the growth factor was passed either at the end of the mandated 30 day limit or even later.

Any attempt to add the additional two percent for teacher compensation will come in the form of a separate bill.

Supplemental Appropriations

The Governor is expected to submit shortly a supplemental appropriations bill. The bill appropriates $213 million (from a projected ending balance of $237 million), and much of the spending is earmarked for FY 2006. The bill will propose $160 million in Medicaid spending ($60 million in FY 2005 and $100 million in FY 2006), $40 million in Early Childhood programs (the money is allowed to not revert to the General Fund in FY 2006. The breakdown for the early childhood money is as follows:

  • $25 million for early childhood ($604,500 for standards for preschool and for professional development for preschool staff
  • $4.5 million for Community Empowerment School Ready grants
  • $20 million to the Child Development Coordinating Council
  • $13.5 million for childcare assistance ($2.7 million for expansion of the eligibility level; $9 million to increase reimbursement rates; $1.8 million for the child care rating system

Legislative Update

A Summary of Bills Introduced During the Week of 1-10-2005

House Files:

  • HF 1 - This bill establishes a state percent of growth of 4 percent for purposes of the state school foundation program for the school budget year beginning July 1, 2006. The bill is applicable for state aid computation under the school foundation program for the school budget year beginning July 1, 2006. By Tymeson and Chambers
  • HF 13 - This bill provides an income tax credit of up to $250 for teachers that incur expenses for supplies directly used by them in the teaching at accredited elementary or secondary schools in Iowa. To qualify, the expenses must be nonreimbursable from any source. If the expenses were deducted in computing federal adjusted gross income, the deduction shall be added in determining Iowa net income.
    These supplies include paper supplies, bulletin boards, books, maps, charts, computer software but not hardware, and other similar items directly used by the taxpayer as a teacher. The cost incurred to purchase supplies for which a tax credit may be received under this section shall not be used by a school district to supplement its costs of instructional materials.
    The bill applies retroactively to January 1, 2005, for tax years beginning on or after that date. By Tymeson
  • HF 43 - This bill amends Code sections 49.13 and 49.15 to allow high school juniors and seniors who are not yet qualified to be registered voters to be appointed as precinct election board members, but not board chairpersons, if they meet certain statutory requirements. By Jochum
  • HF 55 - This bill allows a school district, individually or with other school districts, to apply to the school budget review committee for additional allowable growth for before and after school programs. Such school districts must annually submit their program plans with their comprehensive program plans to the department of education, along with a program budget. The bill includes legislative findings, encourages community investment, and lists some of the activities the best programs support.
    A district may charge a fee for participation in the before and after school program, but must make every reasonable effort to remove financial barriers to participation in the program. By Berry and Raecker
  • HF 72 - This bill makes changes to the Iowa public employees' retirement system (IPERS) relating to contributions made to the system by employees.
    Code section 97B.11 is amended to increase, over a four= year period beginning July 1, 2005, contributions to the system from the employee. The current employer rate of 5.75 percent is maintained by the bill. Currently, the employee rate is 3.7 percent of a member's covered wages. The bill increases the employee percentage by one=half percent each fiscal year beginning July 1, 2005, July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2007. The bill increases the rate by .55 percent for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2008, leaving a 5.75 percent employee rate for each year beginning on or after July 1, 2008. The bill makes conforming changes to the Code sections providing for the contributions paid by special service members of IPERS to retain the current contribution rate calculation for these members. By Chambers

Senate Files:

  • SF 4 - This bill provides that the district management levy authorized in Code section 298.4 may be utilized by a school district to pay the cost of school district employee health benefits. The bill provides that employee health benefits include the costs for hospital and surgical, medical expense, major medical, dental, or prescription drug benefits. These benefits were previously specifically excluded from the list of insurance benefits for which a school district is authorized to contract indebtedness and issue general obligation bonds pursuant to Code section 296.7. By Kibbee and Connolly
  • SF 7 - This bill limits the types of courses secondary students may take under the postsecondary enrollment options Act to those courses related to mathematics, English-language arts, vocational-technical education, and science. By Brunkhorst
  • SF 23 - This bill provides for the expansion of authorized uses for revenue derived from the physical plant and equipment levy specified in Code section 298.3, and the local option sales tax for school infrastructure purposes specified in Code section 423E.1. By Kibbee and Beall
  • SF 26 - This bill requires the state board of regents, in with the department of education, to conduct a study regarding the advantages and disadvantages of establishing higher standards for admissions to the institutions under its control. The state board must submit its findings and recommendations in a report to the senate and house of representatives standing committees on education by January 15, 2006. By Tinsmann
  • SF 27 - This bill establishes the general assembly's findings with regard to the need for Iowa's students to have an appreciation for the state through the study of its history, government, and long and distinguished record of civic activities and contributions. The bill requires the university of northern Iowa to develop an Iowa studies professional development plan, in cooperation with community colleges and area education agencies (AEAs), that includes a professional development curriculum and supporting materials and training measures to provide Iowa's teachers with effective ways to infuse Iowa studies into their secondary school classrooms. By Tinsmann and Boettger

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