June 27, 2022

The tangled web of Gov. Reynolds’ private school voucher bill

By Doris J. Kelley

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive,” was spoken by Sir Walter Scott in 1808 to portray the antics a Lord pursued in his lust for a rich woman. The phrase applies to Iowa’s Republican Governor (Kim Reynolds) and her GOP peers, but in this case their antics to use more public taxpayer money as a lust entitlement payment for a privileged 2 percent of Iowa’s K-12 students to attend a private school (Senate File 2369).

The tangled weave espoused by the majority of Iowa’s GOP elected officials is coming to light even though the bill is dead for this legislative session. Reynolds has promised, if re-elected as governor, the issue will be her top priority.

The devil is in the details. First, only two of every five Iowa taxpayers approve of diverting public tax generated funds to support private schools (Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, 2022).

Secondly, SF 2369 only benefits 10,000 private school attendees at the cost of 485,000 public school kids.

Reynolds’ tangled web only serves a privileged few and not Iowa’s 3 million citizens. Likewise, 31 of the 32-member GOP-controlled Senate approved of SF 2369. Rumor mill says about 47 of the 60 Republicans in the Iowa House favored the voucher bill. Therefore, only a few honorable GOP legislators are in the Capitol to represent their constituents, protect taxpayer-generated funds and honor the public schools they serve.

Seven tangled webs of SF 2369:

No. 1: 42 of Iowa’s 99 counties do not have a private school; the proposed legislation is for those who mostly live in urban counties.

No. 2: the bill is a slap in the face to rural Iowa, a heretofore GOP stronghold. Rural Iowans who favor the Republican Party should take note how their like-kind politicians are purposely stabbing them in the back.

No. 3: over $100 million in hard earned public tax dollars is already spent — every year — to support private schools and home schooling.

No. 4: the GOP’s plan would add another $55 million to the already staggering pool of private school money . . . in perpetuity. Rest assured, if the bill is ever approved, the price tag of public funds to benefit private education will increase every year at the cost of public school districts.

No. 5: with the Governor and GOP’s plan, the nonpartisan Fiscal Services Division estimates there would be a direct funding cut to public schools of $79 million per year. Let’s see: $79 million divided by Iowa’s 327 public school districts means the average school district will lose $241,590 per year. We know all school districts are not equal in size. For most public school districts, the financial cut will be huge. But, imagine the effect of any school losing — $242,000 per year — and every year thereafter — and the number of teachers they will have to fire year after year after year and class sizes growing year after year. Iowa’s GOP deceiving antics are sobering for public taxation and public education.

No. 6: if Gov. Reynolds and GOP elected officials’ tangled web is permitted to continue, there will be a significant increase in public school closings, teacher shortages will occur and fewer opportunities for students attending public schools to partake in curricular and extra-curricular endeavors.

No. 7: over the last six years while the GOP has controlled Iowa’s Capital, funding for private schools and home schooling has increased by 150 percent while state funding for Iowa’s 327 public school districts hasn’t even kept up with inflation and the cost of living.

Oh, what a tangled web Iowa’s GOP has weaved, making Iowa considerably less tolerable to raise a family. On Tue., Nov. 8, only support legislators who want to preserve Iowa’s rich history of public schools.

Contact Doris J. Kelley at DJKelley@cfu.net