Iowa Senate approves boost in education funding

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Legislation to significantly boost school funding got approval in the Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate Tuesday, but the plan is likely to face opposition in the Republican-majority House.

Senators backed bills to boost K-12 funding for the next two school years. Under the proposal, school aid would increase by more than $200 million for the upcoming academic year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. That's more than double the amount approved by the House for the same period. The House and Senate proposals both include funding specifically dedicated to teacher leadership training.

"Iowa's future depends on high quality local schools," said Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa. "This legislation is a serious and meaningful step for Iowa schools."

Bowman said the funding level approved by the House would mean classroom crowding, outdated resources and cuts to arts or sports. School advocates had sought an even larger increase, but have offered support for the Senate plan.

Republicans in the Senate questioned the funding proposals

"To say I care nothing about education because I care what the budget looks like is absurd," said Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton. She later asked: "What will we cut if this is the choice that we make."

The legislation now moves to the state House. But Rep. Ron Jorgenson, R-Sioux City, who chairs the House Education Committee, said he did not think the funding approved by the Senate was affordable.

"We still have education being our priority, but we want to do it in a fiscally responsible manner," he said.

A spokesman for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad said the House plan was more in line with the governor's budget proposal, but declined to comment on the Senate legislation until they offered a full budget.

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