Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Opinion

April 26, 2013

The Heartsill Report

Iowa’s New Standard for “Slow”

Knoxville —

We are all familiar with the phrase: “Slow as molasses in January”.  However, given the Iowa Senate’s lethargic action on Education Reform that oft quoted expression may soon be replaced.

The debate on Education Reform continues in the Iowa Legislature, but at a very slow pace.  This is just as frustrating as it is unfortunate for our public school administrators who have been pleading with the Legislature, early on in the session, to move quickly on an Education Reform package that provides adequate funding for our public schools.

This would be a good time to provide a quick recap of how this legislation has moved.

Back on Feb. 20, the House passed House File 215 sending it on to the Senate.  The bill sat idle in the Senate for 42 days until it passed out of committee on April 2.  Fortunately, it only took one more day to reach the Senate Floor and was voted out on April 3.

The House promptly responded on April 4 by choosing not to concur with the Senate’s complete rewrite of the original bill, which sent House File 215 to conference committee.  Once the conferees were appointed and the committee was established, it took less than a week (April 10) for the House to offer a compromise solution that attempted to satisfy the priorities of both chambers.

The House compromise met the Senate’s allowable growth numbers offering 2 percent plus a 2 percent one-time payment in Fiscal Year 2014 and 4 percent in Fiscal Year 2015.  In return, the House asked the Senate to accept the House’s policy language, language which had the support of 45 groups interested in education, including nearly every major education association.

The Senate spent the following week bashing the House proposal before finally offering a counter proposal on April 18 at 11 a.m.  It accepted the House’s idea on allowable growth but required the House to make a $30 million per year block grant permanent and accept all of the Senate’s language on the leadership ladder plan, tossing out all the House’s provisions protecting parental choice in education.

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