Friday, March 7, 2014

RSAI Legislative Update

March 3, 2014
Floor Work Continues after the First Funnel

Please contact me with any questions, (515) 201-3755.  

Advocacy Plan:  Lobby from home day next Thursday, March 13:  Set the state cost per pupil for FY 2016 before the legislature adjourns this Session.

The Education Coalition (UEN, IASB, AEAs of Iowa, SAI and ISEA) is planning a “lobby from home” day next week to generate many phone and email contacts before people head off to Spring Break and before the legislature starts to wind down.  Send email and make phone calls striving for three contacts per advocate (more if your district is represented by several legislators).  Use a pyramid model where each advocate encourages another to also contact their legislators and the governor. Turn your grassroots and parent groups loose.  Use the UEN call to action, Feb. 14, which includes a sample letter from parent to legislator to get started. School Funding Decision Needed Now (w/parent letter)

Contact information:
Call or email Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds and your legislators and leave a message:  schools need sufficient school funding, at least 6% per pupil for the 2015-16 school year, determined this session.   
·         Office of the Governor: State Capitol | 1007 East Grand Ave. | Des Moines, Iowa 50319, Phone: 515.281.5211 | Contact Us (
·         To reach members of the Iowa House and Senate:.
o   Find your legislator here:  
o   Email your legislators. The correct email address configuration is: and can be verified at the above link.
o   Call the Switchboard. Leave a message for your representative at 515.281.3221 or for your senator at 515.281.3371
·         Write a letter to your local newspaper explaining the information above in this call to action or sharing details from one of the education coalition funding facts of the week.
Joint Budget Targets:  Unprecedented to have joint targets with Republicans in charge of the House and Democrats in charge of the Senate, indicating serious work toward April adjournment.  Joint budget targets were released yesterday. House and Senate leaders agree on FY 2015 general fund budget of $6.92 billion, $29 million below the Governor’s budget recommendation and $430 million more than FY 2014.  These targets have nothing to do with 6% cost per pupil increase in FY 2016.  These targets do include the 4% cost per pupil increase set last year for FY 2015.  The Education Appropriations Subcommittee met briefly this morning to share the target, then went to caucus.  They anticipate a bill with line item appropriations no sooner than the week of March 17.  The Education budget includes several line items, among them DE administration, Iowa Core, community colleges, early reading implementation, and many others, but the state aid/supplemental state assistance is appropriated in the Unassigned Standings appropriations bill. 
FY 2014 Estimated Spending
Governor’s FY 2015 Recommendation
Joint Legislative Targets FY 2015
$716.42 million
$716.42 million
$716.42 million
Unassigned Standings
$2.991 billion
$3.283 billion
$3.259 billion
Total State General Fund
$6.492 billion
$7.001 billion
$6.972 billion
Funnel Deadline:  March 14 is the next official funnel deadline by which bills must be approved by committee in the other chamber rather than their chamber of origin in order to move forward (Senate files approved by House Committees and House files approved by Senate Committees.)  Appropriations, ways and means (tax policy) and leadership bills are exempt from the funnel deadlines.  Remember that any dead bill may show up as an amendment in another bill to which it is topical (germane), as part of an appropriations bill or if the body agrees, by suspension of the rules.  The following bills received floor consideration this week:
Senate Action
         SF 2129: authorizing the establishment of a philanthropy account within an agency fund established by a school corporation. (Formerly SF 2006.)  Passed ayes 35, nays 13. To House Education Committee.
         SF 2285: establishing an Iowa healthiest children initiative in the DPH, with recommendations due Dec. 15, 2014. (Formerly SF 2144.)  Passed ayes 48, nays 0.
         SF 2286: Fine arts standards task force would recommend inclusion of fine arts standards in academic standards, report due Jan. 2015, Passed, 42-7.
         SF 2262:  Radon testing in public schools, must test by June 30, 2016 and at least every 10 years after and following construction, repairs, no requirement (yet) to mitigate. Passed, 35-14.  The fiscal note written about this bill states:  Based on information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the cost of testing schools by radon professionals may range up to $1,500 for an entire building. The DE reports that in some cases, a radon test kit may be implemented by a licensed professional at a cost of $30 per room. Cost of radon mitigation will vary, and may range between $5,000 and $15,000 (although not mandated by the bill).  Additionally, in some cases, ventilation adjustments can lead to radon reduction.
House Action
         HF 2388 Foster Care Education: Encourages the AEA to hire a foster care liaison to assist schools with transfer of foster care children (dealing with transfer of credits, transition planning, coordinating information and other services.)  Requires schools to work with the liaison if the AEA has one. Amended and passed 99:0.  Goes to the Senate Education Committee.
         HF 2389 Teacher Sexual Misconduct: Requires BOEE to adopt rules that allow BOEE to suspend or revoke the license or otherwise discipline a teacher who solicits or engages in sex with a person who was their student within the prior 90 days.   Goes to the Senate Education Committee. 
         SF 2056: WGS incentives: extends WGS/reorganization incentives to 2019, for up to three years for WGS and 3 years following a reorg. Fiscal impact is estimated at $1.6 million. Approved 49:0. Goes to the Senate Education Committee. 
         SF 2230:  DE Code Corrections passed 98:0 (amended bill to match the senate version, so goes back to Senate, then to the governor.)  The bill specifies data reporting requirements for the DE related to core academic indicators, changes references to modified allowable growth to correspond with new concept of state supplemental aid to schools, now referring to the term as “modified supplemental amount”  for school districts and AEAs, replaces a reference to a now nonexistent organization  (north central association of colleges and schools) with a reference to a higher learning commission, allows for a reorganization petition to include a vote on a revenue purpose statement for sales tax revenue to be voted on at the reorganization election, reinstates the state board of education’s authority to adopt rules to administer teacher mentoring and induction, requires proceeds from sales of funds be deposited into the fund from which the property was originally purchased and provides for sale or disposition of real property to be deposited into the PPEL if the original fund of purchase is unknown and proceeds from sale of any property other than real property into the general fund.  Also requires that proceeds from sale of student constructed-structures reimburse the program but if the board discontinues the program, funds would go to the general fund. 

School Funding:  No change from last week’s report: the Senate approved and sent to the House, the following bills still assigned to the House Education Committee with Subcommittee members Jorgensen, Forristall, and Steckman. Subcommittee meetings have not been scheduled and there has been no indication that the House will take up this conversation this year. Look to the UEN CALL TO ACTION Feb. 14, 2014 to help school leaders and parents connect with House members and the governor to prioritize school funding and move these bills. A template for a letter from parents or citizens is included with the call to action.
         SF 2079Sets 6% increase to the state cost per pupil (formerly known as allowable growth) for FY 2016, passed on partisan vote all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. 
         SF 2077Sets 6% growth for categorical supplements (PD, TSS and early intervention/class size) for FY 2016, passed on partisan vote all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. 
         SF 2078: Property Tax Replacement Payments:  makes permanent the state’s replacement of the property tax impact of allowable growth/state supplemental assistance, passed unanimously (49-0).   
Timing:  House bill HF 2194, approved 53-43 on Feb. 14 in the Iowa House, changes when the state cost per pupil would be set:
         Currently, Iowa Code 257.8 requires state cost per pupil and categorical fund percent increases to be set within 30 days of the governor’s budget for the out year (Feb. 13, 2014 is deadline to set July 1, 2015 rate)
         In odd numbered years, state cost per pupil for the upcoming July 1 and the out year are both set.  The legislature wouldn’t act in the even numbered year
         Democrats in the floor debate quoted school superintendents responding to a survey in which 98% said the funding decision should not be delayed to next Session.  They talked about the timelines required to set a quick budget, the difficulty with scenario planning, and suggested the legislature should follow the law.

Education Coalition Joint Advocacy:  Thanks to ISEA, IASB, SAI, Iowa AEAs and UEN for working in this collaborative effort!

·         Funding fact of the week:  the coalition is preparing a weekly funding fact to generate local conversations and fuel the enthusiasm for setting the state percent of growth during the 2014 Session. The first issue detailed Iowa’s 37th in the nation ranking in total per pupil expenditures, now $1,514 below the national average.  Prior issues are linked on the UEN legislative page, or you can access via the links and titles here:
03/03/2014 - It's All About the Timing
  Sign up to received the Education Funding fact of the week here:

Cedar Rapids Gazette editorial on why the legislature should follow the law and set school funding for the FY 2016 fiscal year in the 2014 session.  It’s a great editorial – read it, share it, send it to your legislators and others.   The editorial explains why education funding should be set before the rest of the budget:
“The not quite 20-year-old state law directs the Legislature to set state per-pupil funding two years in advance, and within 30 days of receiving a governor’s budget. The goals are pretty simple. Make school funding a top priority, give school districts ample time to plan ahead and make it less likely that critical school bucks will get tangled up in all the budgetary horse-trading that happens late in a session.” 

They also explain what happens when it’s not set timely:  “This is not the path to the world class schools the governor says we should have. Districts are far less likely to try transformative initiatives and launch innovative programs if their budgetary visibility is reduced to just a few months. Uncertainty encourages districts to hunker down and cling to the status quo.”

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