Legislature compromise may be ‘tougher’ this session


Legislative Funding

Alex Hanson

Despite party leaders saying they hope for a quick deal on education funding, the Iowa Legislature may be heading for another bitter battle over funding of schools in the state when they convene Monday.

Last year, the legislature compromised by passing a 1.25 percent increase in funding along with about $55.7 million in one-time funds. Branstad line-item vetoed the one-time funds.

“[The veto] is definitely going to make deal-making harder, not just on education, but across the board,” said state Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, adding the governors office told legislators they could not see Branstad vetoing the agreement. “Well, low and behold, he vetoed it. The governor undercut the compromise.”

Quirmbach said his committee has passed a 4 percent increase that could be passed right away by the House.

“Lets put that in the past and move forward,” said state Rep. Ron Jorgensen, R-Sioiux City, chairman of the House Education Committee. “Lets come together like I think we can and should, and work out a deal as best as we can. It’s certainly not going to effect me on my willingness to negotiate and get the quickest and best deal.”

Jorgensen said the House has passed a 2 percent increase, which the Senate could pass right away.

Ben Hammes, a spokesperson for Branstad, provided an email statement to The Daily about working toward a deal on K-12 and higher education funding. 

“The governor’s state goal is to hopefully reach 2.45 percent for supplemental state aid,” he said. “We look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle and hope they can send the governor a school funding bill early in the session.”

The 86th Iowa General Assembly will convene on Monday, with April 19 as the target date for adjournment. Last year’s session went over schedule by several weeks as legislators negotiated on items.

Branstad will deliver his annual “Condition of the State” address, where he will lay out budget and policy priorities, to a joint session of the legislature on Tuesday.

“My hope is that it won’t be a hugely contentious session, and that we can focus on issues facing Iowans, move forward and complete the session on time, or close to on time,” said state Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames.