Sen. Amy Sinclair and Sen. Ken Rozenboom want to increase private education funding by nearly five-fold to $240 million through the Education Savings Account, or as the rest of us call them, vouchers. This will cost $4,000 per voucher child to attend private institutions. What happened to separation of church and state?
They are both trying to claim that ESA/Voucher’s are “revenue neutral.” Public schools receive revenue from two sources: one way is through state aid, and the other revenue source is through local property taxes. If the legislature passes an appropriations bill that includes ESA/Vouchers, it will result in money being siphoned away from state aid for public education and given to private education providers. When state aid is reduced, the only other way for public schools to make up for that loss is through raising local property taxes.
Image if 100 students from the Pella Community School District each took an ESA/Voucher for $4,000 to be educated elsewhere. That would result in their being $400,000 less state revenue available for Pella Community Schools, or Medicaid, or mental health or backfill for commercial and industrial property taxes (which shifts the local burden onto residential property). If the state has extra resources doesn’t the Pella Community Schools deserve better than the measly 1 percent or 1.11 percent supplemental state aid increase they received this year and last year?
Not only is there no transparency on how ESA/Voucher funds are spent, private schools have no publicly elected board to keep an eye on our tax money. this will drastically harm rural communities and place a huge financial burden on all public school districts.
Why is this happening? You just need to follow the money. The Republican push for ESA/Voucher program comes from Americans for Prosperity (funded by the Koch brothers), School Policy Network, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heartland Institute and EdChoice.
House District 79 and 28 are open seats this year. The only way to change the attack on public schools is to get out and vote on Nov. 6. It’s time we elect people that support public education in rural Iowa.