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Dems propose 4 percent bump in school funding

Published: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 12:07 p.m. CST

DES MOINES (AP) — Democratic lawmakers on Thursday proposed a 4 percent increase in state aid to school districts, setting up a potential confrontation with Gov. Terry Branstad, who is pushing for quick passage of his own changes to Iowa’s education system.

The Democrats’ plan would increase state aid to school districts by $134 million for the school year starting in September. Democratic legislators said the plan would not increase local property taxes.

Branstad on Monday unveiled an education plan that would boost starting teacher salaries, add incentive pay for educators and make other changes. The package would cost $187 million over five years. Branstad would like to see speedy passage of his bill before lawmakers debate general school funding — a contentious issue that has moved very slowly in the Legislature in past years.

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines said Branstad was trying to pressure lawmakers.

“House Democrats will work with the governor in a bipartisan way, but at this point there’s not a single yes vote in the caucus for his proposals because of this ultimatum,” McCarthy said.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, praised the governor’s proposal, calling it “thoughtful.” He said he supported dealing with the governor’s plan first or working on Branstad’s plan and the funding issues at the same time.

“Clearly Iowans expect and Iowans deserve us to work on education reform,” Paulsen said.