DES MOINES — A small group of legislators will return to the statehouse today and begin negotiations among Republicans on the spending plan for the state fiscal year that starts July 1. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds says there’s no real impasse on the state budget and differences will be resolved quickly.
“We’re not going to shut the state down. We’re not Washington, D.C. and we’re never going to be,” Reynolds told reporters Tuesday. “We know how to sit down and have a conversation and move things forward.”
House Republicans have drafted and passed budget bills for all state agencies and operations. Senate Republicans have not, passing only the DOT budget out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 13. Senate GOP leaders say their overall spending target of about $8.2 billion matches the governor’s proposed budget plan. House Republicans are proposing spending about $70 million dollars more than that.
Reynolds told reporters she is not giving up on her bid to get the 2022 Iowa legislature to provide state scholarships for students in private schools.
“We’ve had a lot of different things that we’ve looked at: narrowing it, doing a smaller number, limiting the number of schools that it would apply to, the percentage of poverty level,” Reynolds said. “I mean, we’ve talked about a whole host of things.”
In March, the Republican-led Senate passed the governor’s plan to provide state scholarships to 10-thousand students in low and moderate income households who enroll in private schools. Reynolds has been saying — a restated yesterday — that some parents don’t feel their public school supports their values and a private school would be a better fit.
“The parent should have that choice to decide where is the right place for their child to get a quality education and the support system that they need,” Reynolds said.
The plan has stalled in the House, as many House Republicans worry the proposal will hurt small, rural schools and benefit urban areas like Des Moines where there are dozens of private schools. The governor’s plan for private school scholarships a year ago stalled, too. It was smaller and only for students transferring out of 34 public school buildings flagged for failing federal standards.