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VIDEO: Republicans present 1.11 percent increase in K-12 public education funding

Republican lawmakers are getting underway with school funding, presenting a plan for a 1.11 percent increase for K-12 public education funding Monday.

The proposal amounts to around $40 million and also gets rid of the requirement that lawmakers set these budgets two years in advance.

This is just slightly more than half of what Governor Terry Branstad has proposed to the Legislature, which was two percent for the next two years.

"We take very seriously the amount of money we put towards any program in the state budget," Rep. Walt Rogers, R - Cedar Falls, said. "When we have tough revenue years, it's a hard decision. We are going to take it seriously and we felt that the number of $40 million going towards the increase of education was the appropriate number."

Tom Narak with the School Administrators of Iowa was one of several speakers who criticized the proposal during a House subcommittee meeting.

"Schools are really getting into a crisis position with having to make some really deep cuts," he said. "And 1.1 percent (supplemental state aid) will force many, many more cuts."

Brad Hudson with the Iowa State Education Association also warned lawmakers about their plan.

"Those with decreasing enrollment are definitely going to have a hard time keeping what they've been doing," he said. "Those with increasing enrollments, while they'll be able to provide course offerings, they'll be dealing with larger class sizes and I don't think that's the future anybody promised during the election cycle."

Others said having lawmakers set the budget two years in advance allowed schools to prepare and know what they had to work with. But Rogers said lawmakers didn't think that was the best budgeting decision.

"We did not feel comfortable with going out two years because of the revenue estimating conference numbers not being as reliable as we'd like to see them, so we felt that this was a more budget-responsible route to go," Rogers said.

Rogers also says lawmakers are also having discussions about ways to increase spending flexibility for school districts and how the state can better address funding inequity concerns.

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