Democrats Push for Special Session on Education Funding

Sioux City, Iowa (ABC9 News) – The battle over education funding in Iowa got kicked up a notch by democrats Monday,
but it’s unlikely thier demand for a special session of the legislature will ever happen.

Last week Governor Branstad used a line item veto to cut $55 million dollars of one-time education funding out of the 2016 fiscal budget.  Monday democrats annoucned they’re seeking  a special session, with hopes of over-riding the veto.

In a press release House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown said, “The governor’s veto shows us exactly what republicans really think of public education.”

Lawmakers haven’t returned to Des Moines for a special session since 2006.  State Senator Rick Bertrand, a republican from Sioux City tells ABC9 that he doesn’t expect that streak to end with the democrats request.  “No I don’t I really don’t.  I think if you look at the procedures it takes 2/3rds of the general assembly to bring us back and if you do the simple math I don’t think the votes are there.  I think the budget is set and its time to move forward,” said State Senator Rick Bertrand.

Fellow Sioux City lawmaker Chris Hall doesn’t see it that way.  “I think if a special session does occur we could look at the current fiscal year as well as the coming fiscal year.  I think we just want to make sure that schools across the state and children have the funding they need for education,” said State Rep. Chris Hall.

Two-thirds of lawmakers from both chambers need to agree to a special session for it to take place.  By the numbers, every democrat along with 7 republicans would have to vote “yes” for the session to be approved. It’s unlikely that would happen.  Bertrand told us he would not support the call for a special session.

The Sioux City School District was hoping to use money from the one time funding increase for new elementary science and high school social studies curriculum.  Without the about one million dollars that would’ve brought, it means that likely won’t happen, because the money would have to come out of budget reserves.

“We don’t know what to expect next year. We’re also up against a real challenge in Sioux City, as are other districts as it relates to spending authority. So, we’d hate to go ahead, purchase a curriculum this year, only to have to turn around and potentially then to have to reduce our staff next year,” says Sioux City School Board President Mike Krysl.
Beyond this issue, Krysl says the education funding system needs to be fixed.  He echos Governor Branstad’s frustration that funding for the next school year hasn’t already been looked at.

[“source – siouxlandmatters.com”]

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