In early January of this year, Iowa legislators debated over a new budget plan for the state. The republican led debate, decided on cutting the budget up to $52 million dollars to increase the total amount of money in the state’s reserve, as well as the State’s revenue is growing at a lower rate than originally projected. The majority of the budget cuts are in education.
Up to $19 million dollars of the state’s budget cuts have been towards Universities. University of Iowa will see a loss of $8.7 million, Iowa State will have a loss of $6.9 million, and with Northern Iowa losing $3.7 million under the new plan. Iowa’s community colleges will also be receiving a budget cut of $5.4 million and the Department of Education will get a cut of $1.7 million.
Though early in their budget drafts, the legislators said they wouldn’t touch the K-12 budget, yet some K-12 educators are afraid that their budgets next. Mrs. S, an educator for the Cedar Rapids School District says “it’s very fortunate that the K-12 programs didn’t get affected by the bill. But we have the feeling that we’re not far from getting a budget cut of our own.”
Some schools in the Cedar Rapids community are already in danger of being closed down. Just last year, the Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Community Schools already facilitated a plan to close down 8 elementary schools, and renovate the remaining 13 schools. Mrs. S says “If the Budget cuts come to the K-12 budget, the schools might get closed down earlier than anticipated leaving with several people left without jobs. The older schools might not get funded enough for the needed renovations to accommodate all the influx of new students coming in.”
With the metro city area’s population expanding, schools need to be able to expand without worry of not being able to due to money not put in their budget or lack of ability for a bond.
Included in the bill is budget cuts to Iowa courthouses. Due to the loss of money, some courthouses will close with several people without jobs.
The republicans defend the bill, saying it’s necessary for the state and the bill is for the Iowa taxpayers who feel that too much of their hard earned money is being taken away from them. Within the debates of the bill, some Republicans attempted to discuss how to add 200,000 new jobs and higher family incomes during discussion over the layoffs that he bill will have.
Iowa democrats however have a different opinion. Democrats stated that under Republican leadership is damaging the state’s ability to provide a skilled workforce for employers and will force tuition increases for college students. Also, adding all those jobs with no explanation how to do it worried some democratic representatives.
The Iowa State Education Association also showed backslash towards the bill, with the Associations President stating that the last thing that the state should do is cut the budget. “By doing that, it sets the states education programs back compared to other states.”
Though the bill isn’t finalized, there’s still discussions to be had about the future of the education programs and other programs intended to be effected by this bill. Everyone needs to be accounted for, to reach the best outcome for the future of Iowa citizens and Iowa’s budget.