Wilhelm follows state law by putting school funding first
On Tuesday, February 9, State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco helped the Iowa Senate approve a 4% increase in basic state aid to education for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The vote was in accordance with the state law requiring the level of state investment in state schools to be determined first.
“For more than 20 years, state law has required that writing the state budget starts with determining how much we would invest in our top priority: investing in the next generation of Iowans,” said Wilhelm. “Knowing how much they would receive a year and a half in advance helped school leaders make the best use of every dollar they received.”
In recent years, the Iowa Senate has followed the law but the Iowa House of Representatives has not. The result has been last minute budget negotiations and increased uncertainty. Last year, the Iowa House and Senate reached a compromise in June for the school year starting a month later. Ironically, Governor Branstad vetoed a significant part of that compromise on July 2, two days after the budget year had begun.
“Missing the deadline for an agreement on education funding is not only against the law, it is also bad for Iowa’s students,” said Wilhelm. “During the last five years, the amount we’ve invested in each Iowa student has increased by only six dollars in real terms. That’s $1.20 a year and it is not enough.”