Last week, Tedd Gassman said, "Beyond K-12 education there are a number of other reasons to vote for me."
I think anyone would interpret that statement to suggest Mr. Gassman believes he is a champion of public education in Iowa and has the voting record to prove it. That is just not true. I have been writing about this issue for several weeks and want to provide some final thoughts here.
In bragging about Iowa's K-12 funding Mr. Gassman is providing data which comes from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report from November 2017.
But as I noted last week, the CBPP has since lowered Iowa's ranking in the percentage increase of state funds after adjusting for the penny for school infrastructure, a local revenue source in the beginning of their comparison but changed to a state revenue source in 2009. The report concluded Iowa spending growth on K-12 education from FY2008-15 was only 4.9 percent (inflation adjusted) or .7 of 1 percent per year on average.
The building block of Iowa's enrollment-based local school budgets is a per-pupil cost figure, adjusted annually by "Supplemental State Aid" (SSA), formally known as "allowable growth.”
For FY 2019, lawmakers set the SSA percentage at its second-lowest level in 15 years: 1 percent, just one year after setting it at 1.1 percent. SSA has averaged only 1.7 percent over the last nine years, well below what is needed to keep up with costs.
Iowa currently ranks 28th in the nation in spending per student. In 2014, Iowa spent $10,668 per student (adjusted for inflation), lower than the national average of $11,009. Iowa's percent change in spending per student, inflation adjusted, from FY 2008 through FY 2014, is down $641 per student. Iowa allocates 16.3 percent of all funds for K-12 education as compared to a national average of 19.3 percent.
With strong support from Mr. Gassman, Iowa makes significant funding contributions to private schools. Beyond transportation and other benefits provided to private school students by taxpayers, the state offers a "Student Tuition Organization" (STO) tax credit that has expanded steadily.
Gassman is also a strong supporter of vouchers which are a huge concern. Public schools are our foundation in Iowa. If we continue to reduce support for our schools that serve our children it will be difficult to recover. If we can't fund our public schools well today, how will we be able to if we include all private school children? Public schools must be our number one priority. Private schools are a family choice-not a necessity, and the state of Iowa has no obligation to provide funding for them.
So is Mr. Gassman a champion of public education. No, he is just the opposite. Let's do what is right for our young people. Vote for Deb Jensen.