# State Budget



Questions for lawmakers who voted for "school choice"

Dianne Prichard of DeWitt taught in public schools for 33 years before becoming a pastor.

I have questions for the legislators who voted for the “school choice” bill, which Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law on January 24. 

1. How will you support our public schools?

As House File 68 is written, vouchers will harm public schools. 

About 33,000 Iowa students go to private schools now; the governor predicts that number will increase by 5,000 students. Meanwhile, approximately 500,000 Iowa students will remain in underfunded public schools.

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So many questions, but so few answers

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that private school vouchers appear to be barreling toward passage during the third week of the Iowa legislature’s 2023 session. These vouchers, or education savings accounts, or whatever you want to call them, would give parents $7,600 per year for each of their kids to attend a private K-12 school.

Although the outcome has been easy to foresee, it has not been easy to get answers to the many questions being asked across the state as Iowa lawmakers move toward this landmark change in education.

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Iowa House leaders back rule change to grease skids for school vouchers

Iowa House Republicans are seeking to change a longstanding chamber rule, in order to make it easier to pass Governor Kim Reynolds’ school voucher plan.

Since Republicans gained control of the Iowa House for the 2011 session, every rules package has contained the following language under Rule 32:

All bills to appropriate money shall be referred to the appropriations committee, and all bills pertaining to the levy, assessment, or collection of taxes or fees shall be referred to the committee on ways and means.

House Study Bill 31 would exempt “bills assigned to the Education Reform Committee” during the 2023 session or any special legislative session from moving through the Ways and Means and Appropriations committees.

Speaker Pat Grassley created the Education Reform Committee for the express purpose of considering major legislation, such as the governor’s plan to provide state funds to families choosing to enroll their children in private schools. The panel’s five members include Grassley, Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, and Speaker Pro-tem John Wills, all of whom support “school choice.” So the Education Reform Committee is guaranteed to advance the bill, perhaps with some amendments.

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Five ways Kim Reynolds changed her school voucher plan

As expected, Governor Kim Reynolds devoted a significant share of her Condition of the State speech on January 10 to her plan to divert more public funds to private K-12 schools across Iowa.

Although the central purpose of the plan remains the same—giving state funds to families who choose to send their children to a private school—the latest version is vastly larger in scope, and will be more costly.

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Iowa GOP trifecta dropped the ball with vets

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com

In politics, having a “trifecta” in government is a good thing for a political party—until the trifecta’s inaction on some popular issue starts to haunt those in power.

Iowa Republicans served up an example of the consequences of such inaction in the days leading up to Christmas. This story involves military veterans, a highly sought-after constituency that is part of any solid political movement.

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Eight revealing exchanges from the Reynolds/DeJear debate

You have to hand it to Deidre DeJear.

Governor Kim Reynolds has all the advantages of incumbency. She has spent most of the year avoiding unscripted questions and taking credit for projects that President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress made possible. While the challenger has struggled to get her message in front of voters, Reynolds enjoys free media coverage almost daily and has blanketed the state with (sometimes racist) television commercials for the past six weeks.

The day before the only scheduled debate between the candidates for governor—Reynolds would not agree to the traditional three—the Des Moines Register published a new Iowa Poll by Selzer & Co showing the incumbent ahead by 52 percent to 35 percent among likely voters.

In other words, the odds facing DeJear could hardly be longer.

Nevertheless, the challenger spoke with clarity and confidence throughout the hour-long “Iowa Press” appearance, using facts and personal stories to great effect. She refused to take the bait when Reynolds fell back on divisive talking points about what “they” (Democrats) supposedly want to do.

I hope voters will take the time to watch the whole program, or read the transcript on the Iowa PBS site. Eight exchanges struck me as particularly revealing.

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