Iowa Governor Terry Branstad exercised his line-item veto authority with appropriations bills to veto several items in HF 666 including $55.7 million in one-time money that was earmarked for supplemental payments for K-12 public schools on Friday.
The one-time cash was to be given to the schools in addition to the 1.25% increase in state school aid for the 2015-2016 school year that was part of a deal reached between Iowa House Republicans and Iowa Senate Democrats to break the stalemate over school funding. The appropriations bill did not provide supplemental state aid for public K-12 schools for the 2016-2017 school year.
Branstad said the money did not fit within the state law required biennial budget.
“I recommended a two-year budget on the second day of this legislative session including an increase in supplemental state aid for both years. Throughout the session, I encouraged the legislature to provide supplemental state aid for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for the next two years as required by law. By using one-time money and not providing supplemental state aid for the second fiscal year, the legislature compounded the uncertainty that school districts faced this entire legislative session,” Branstad wrote in his veto message.
“My administration’s commitment to giving Iowa students a world-class education is demonstrated by significant, targeted growth in funding for initiatives to raise achievement. Iowa’s new Teacher Leadership System is the single largest reform measure, with an investment of more than $150 million when fully phased in during the 2016-2017 school year. With many of our best teachers serving in leadership roles, such as instructional coaches and mentors, Iowa can better support the more demanding work teachers must do today to prepare all students for a knowledge-driven economy,” Branstad added.
“Other targeted education reform measures my administration proposed for the next fiscal year at a cost of more than $18 million include: an initiative to ensure children are able to read by the end of third grade, ongoing expansion of Iowa Learning Online program to offer more course options to high school students, and the Teach Iowa Scholars Program which provides up to $20,000 to top graduates of Iowa teacher preparation programs who teach hard-to-fill subjects in Iowa schools for five years,” Branstad also wrote.
“With any budget, it is important to look at the entire picture. For fiscal year 2016, Iowa schools will receive over $3 billion, by far the biggest item in the state budget,” he noted.