With a July 1st deadline set for Iowa's spending plan, education funding is the main focus of state lawmakers this week.
Last week, the State Senate voted to increase funding to Iowa's public universities by $34 million next year. But on Tuesday, March 28th, 2012, the State House voted to give state universities less money... $115 million less.
Compared to the Senate plan, the Republican-written budget includes slashing $15 million from community colleges and even deeper cuts to the state's three universities. Close to the Quad Cities, University of Iowa's share would decrease by more than $30 million.
Democrats offered several revisions to bring spending up to the Senate level, but the amendments failed. Republicans say cuts now will help ensure there won't be budget shortfalls in the years to come.
'We wanted to make sure we did not spend more money than we took in revenues," says Republican State Representative Cecil Dolecheck. "We wanted to make sure we did not use one time money to fund ongoing expenditures."
"If we underfund our regents at 1994 levels, they are going to have to lay some people off and when they do that, class sizes are going to increase and class sizes are going to fill up right away and it`s going to be really tough to graduate in four years," says Democrat State Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell.
The state education budget is far from final, though. The House's version now goes back to the Senate. As far as Republican Governor Terry Branstad goes, he has said he wants to increase education funding by $23 million.