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Iowa Democrats put full-court press on Republicans over school funding

DAVENPORT -- Iowa school funding will be a top priority when lawmakers return to Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 9.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says Republicans are serious about school funding.  He's calling for 2% spending increases over each of the next two years.

But Democrats, now in the minority, say it's not enough.

"When they're coming back right away with a 2% supplemental state aid number, that tells me that it's going to  be a tough, tough fight," said IA Sen. Rita Hart, (D) Wheatland.

Schools like Madison Elementary in Davenport should learn about state funding in the legislative session's first 30 days.

But how much money it will get, and how fair funding will be remain up for grabs.

"It's been the worst six years of school funding," said IA Sen. Rob Hogg, (D) Cedar Rapids.  "We're now $1,600 per-student below the national average. That's not great for kids."

Davenport already knows about the fairness issue.  It continues to battle Iowa over a funding formula that shortchanges students and dozens of other school districts.

Dr. Art Tate, Davenport's superintendent, is now intentionally violating state laws and risking his job for the cause.

"I think it's actually unconscionable that the superintendent would stand up and say he's going to do the right thing, and he's criticized for violating the law," Sen. Hogg continued.

Democrats must now play defense on these two big funding issues.  Still, they're planning a full-court press on Republicans.

"I don't think (Republicans) can afford another hit about education," said IA Rep. Phyllis Thede, (D) Bettendorf.  "Hopefully, they will stand strong and make sure they can get this done."

In Davenport, a superintendent's job and school funding are at stake.