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Iowa Senate passes increase to school funding

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Iowa senators have approved bills that would bring additional funding to local schools without raising property taxes.

Two Iowa senators, Rita Hart of Wheatland and Chris Brase of Muscatine, voted Wednesday, February 5, 2014 approving a six percent increase of funding for schools. They also approved additional funding to prevent related property tax increases.

According to the Iowa Senate, since 2011 Iowa’s school funding has taken a back seat compared to other parts of the state’s government. Iowa fell to 37th in the nation in regards to per pupil spending.

“Iowa is more than $1,500 below the national average in terms of how much we invest per student.  We should return to putting our local students first with regard to the state budget,” said Hart.

Hart said that the Legislature has to set local school funding 18 months in advance.

“We’ve also approved enough dollars to start repairing damage from several lean years while also implementing last year’s educational reforms,” Hart said.

The Des Moines Register reported that the proposals now head to the Iowa House.

Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan said the increase is unsustainable. He said the proposals are “unsound and unwise,” suggesting that Democrats and Republicans create a bipartisan agreement on the issue.

All 26 Democrats in the Iowa Senate supported the increase, while 23 Republicans voted no. The bill that provides property tax relief was passed unanimously.