Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has line-item vetoed a one-time funding boost of over $60 million in this year’s state budget that would have gone toward public schools and universities, saying lawmakers should have considered the long-term.
“When I took office in 2011, I proposed a two-year budget with a five year projection. My budgets have been fiscally sound, predictable and sustainable for the long term,” Branstad wrote in his veto message. “The budgets I proposed are budgets that hardworking Iowa taxpayers can depend on. Long-term budgeting is not easy and requires very difficult decisions to align projected spending with revenue.”
A total of $55.7 million would have gone to the 338 public K-12 school districts in the state. However, due to the veto, a 1.25% increase over last year will still be given to the districts, but not the additional one-time funding, writes Erin Murphy for The Gazette.
On average, districts received an increase of 5.1% between 2000 and 2009. However, between 2010 and 2013 that increase dropped to just 1.6%. While House Republicans refused to budge from the 1.25% increase this year, the additional one-time funding was added on to appease Democrats who felt an increase of at least 2.6% was necessary. In the end, it was all for naught, as Governor Branstad vetoed the bi-partisan deal.
“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,” wrote Branstad.
While Branstad has not officially said anything pertaining to the veto, Democrats in the state and the Iowa Association of School Boards have made their disappointment in the decision publicly known. “Any pretense of Governor Branstad or any of the Republicans for that matter having education as a priority just went out the window. This veto is just so blatant and so detrimental to our kids and our teachers,” said House District 34 Iowa State Representative Bruce Hunter.
According to the IASB, staff members will not be rehired as a result of the decision, causing class sizes to increase, a shortage of school supplies, and less funding for schools to try to do more with.
“It really seems like education is slipping on the priority list,” said Tom Narak, government relations director with the School Administrators of Iowa. “The consequences are negative for schools, and especially for children. They’re the ones who will suffer.”
Concerning holding a special session to override the veto, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said lawmakers are keeping their options open.