Iowa picks New York firm to run state-funded ESAs

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds has selected a New York company to administer the new state-funded Education Savings Accounts created by a law she signed in January.

“We’re rolling it out. We’ve identified the platform,” Reynolds said today. “We’re not standing still. We’re going to be ready to go for this next school year.”

Odyssey was one of four companies that applied for the Iowa contract. The governor’s office announced state officials will now start negotiating contract details with the company. Reynolds spoke Wednesday at the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education rally at the statehouse. The governor told the crowd Iowa’s new law is spawning “a revolution” around the country.

“It is model language that we are seeing states across this country pick up and adopt. I know Arkansas is moving it. I know Oklahoma is moving. Texas is looking at it,” Reynolds said. “I could go on and on.”

This fall, low income parents who enroll a child in a private school will get about $7600 from the state to cover tuition and other expenses. In the third year, all private school parents will qualify for the state funding.

Odyssey is managing Education Savings Account programs in Arizona and Idaho. According to the governor’s office, the company will be in charge of customer service and fraud detection. Critics say the law Reynolds signed does not provide enough direct oversight to prevent fraud.