Lawmakers agree on 2.5% increase per pupil for Iowa schools

Iowa Senate approves the rate proposed by the House and governor

By: - February 14, 2022 5:48 pm

The Iowa Senate chamber. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa lawmakers agreed Monday to increase state education funding by $174 million for the upcoming school year.

In the first 30 days of each legislative session, legislators must set the State Supplemental Aid (SSA) growth rate. That’s how much the state’s per-pupil funding will grow in the upcoming year.

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the House proposed a 2.5% growth rate. The Senate began negotiations lower, proposing a 2.25% rate.

On Monday, the Senate matched the House and Reynolds, passing a bill to increase state aid by 2.5%. The Senate voted 31-17 in favor of House File 2316, sending it to Reynolds’ desk to be signed into law.

“Republican senators establish rates of growth that are sustainable, predictable, reliable and funded,” said Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton. “We make promises that we keep and we will continue to do so.”

The final proposal allocates an additional $186 per pupil, resulting in $7,413 of state funds per student. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates the total state funding for school districts and Area Education Agencies will be $3.58 billion — an increase of $172 million over the current fiscal year.

The bill also includes a $2 million funding increase to improve transportation equity.

As in the House, Democrats filed several amendments to increase funding for schools by a larger amount. The minority party in both chambers proposed a 5% increase in SSA, representing a $300 million increase to education funding.

“We have the money,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames. “It’s our priorities that are lacking.”

All Democratic amendments, including the 5% proposal, failed on the Senate floor.

The Senate did not take up a House bill to appropriate an additional $19.2 million to schools to address the workforce shortage and nationwide inflation.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.