Legislative Report (Vol XXIV No 12) March 27, 2005 Ed. Appropriations Bill Passes House
Working late into the evening on Wednesday night the House passed HF 816, the education appropriations bill. While the main funding of education is established through the school foundation formula and most of this bill deals with higher education there are impacts to k-12 in this bill.
One of those issues is the Student Achievement and Teacher Quality program, commonly referred to as Teacher Compensation. You will recall during the growth debate the topic of a "plus two" was discussed. This referred to an additional two percent to adequately fund this program.
Iowa law requires that school districts provide an additional two non-contact contract days beginning next fall. It is estimated that an additional $20 million will be required to pay for those days. However this bill funds only one additional non-contact contract day at $8.9 million. The other mandated contract day was not funded.
The bill also provided $9 million to the Community Empowerment fund to be used for early childhood. (On Tuesday the House also passed HF 761 which provided for the physical or virtual colocation of the state administrative office and administrative staff of certain existing early childhood programs under the community empowerment office of the department of management).
There were several issues related to AEAs in the bill:
- In the early childhood section it provides that it is the intent of the legislature that regional technical assistance teams will be established and will include staff from AEAs, Community Colleges and Iowa State University.
- This same section also provides that of the funding provided $1 million will be used to collaborate with AEAs and CC's to provide child care and preschool providers with access to "high-quality" professional development.
- Provides that the moneys allocated for reading recovery be allocated to the Iowa reading recovery council and that the council "use the area education agency unified budget as its fiscal agent for grant moneys and for other moneys administered by the council."
- Most importantly an amendment during debate added an AEA representative to the proposed "Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce." This commission was discussed in detail in last weeks report as was the rationale as to our need to be represented on the commission. Thanks go to Rep. Royd Chambers and Rep. Chuck Gipp for their assistance in this issue and for the assistance of Director of AEA Services Brent Siegrist.
This bill now goes to the Senate where we have no idea as to what action they may or may not take.
IPERS Bill Passes House
The House on Thursday broke precedent by debating and passing an IPERS bill, aimed at insuring the solvency of the fund, during an odd-year session. HF 729 makes changes to the contributions made to the system by employers and employees. Currently, the employer rate is 5.75 percent and the employee rate is 3.7 percent of a member's covered wages. The bill provides that for the fiscal period beginning July 1, 2006, and ending June 30, 2014, the base employer rate may increase from the current rate by .3 percentage points per fiscal year and the base employee rate may increase from the current rate by .2 percentage points per fiscal year thus maintaining the current 60%-40% split.
The bill provides that the increase in contribution rates for any fiscal year will occur only if the percentage rate IPERS determines would be sufficient to amortize the unfunded actuarial liability of the system in 10 years is greater than the total employer and employee contribution rate for the prior fiscal year. The bill further provides that beginning July 1, 2014, the total employer and employee contribution rate shall be the same as for the prior fiscal year. Based on the bill, the maximum total contribution rate from both employers and employees could increase from the current 9.45 percent to 13.45 percent by July 1, 2013.
Senate Committee Passes ICN Bill
On Thursday afternoon the Senate Oversight Committee passed SF 133. This bill authorizes the sale of Iowa communications network (ICN) capacity under specified circumstances, and provides for other changes relating to the operation of the network.
The bill provides that notwithstanding the provisions of Code chapter 23A, relating to noncompetition by government, the commission may sell advanced telecommunications services to private and public telecommunications providers. The bill contains conforming changes consistent with this new capacity.