The Iowa Legislature is back in session. IowaWatch Connection radio network partners talked with lawmakers from both major political parties from around the state about their priorities for this year’s session. Analysts also talk about what they expect.
Funding for K-12 education will be one focus of tension in this session. Last year’s extended session led to a bipartisan decision to provide 1.25 percent more money for education and a one-time boost of nearly $56 million. But Gov. Terry Branstad’s veto of the one-time spending caused schools to slash spending.
“We have had five years in a row of underfunding Iowa schools,” Tammy Wawro, president of the Iowa State Education Association, is calling for an increase in school funding.
“We are cutting programs. We’re cutting our art, music, P.E. We are making due with what we’ve had on underfunded budgets for quite a while. In spite of that our schools are doing well, but how long can we ask them to keep that up.”
Other topics likely to come up during this year’s session include controversy surrounding the planned March 1 switch to privatized Medicaid as well as debates over fantasy sports, Planned Parenthood funding, emergency firearms access and legalization of fireworks.