Hite Capitol Update – February 20th, 2021

by Dustin Hite

Week 6 of the legislative session was a busy one in the Education Committee as well as on the House Floor. The Education Committee passed a number of bipartisan bills out of committee this week. Last week House File 532(formerly HSB 184) advanced out of the full committee, this bill allocates additional funds to school districts who this past year provided in-person learning to their students, and in doing so took on added costs. This supplemental funding will help these school districts take care of those added costs. It also helped with schools that were unable to be in person due to the derecho. Thursday night I managed HF 532 bill on the House Floor, where the bill passed by a 71-26 vote.

During debate on House File 532, I made a point during my closing comments to highlight what many feel was the substantial unfairness of the federal COVID dollars for our schools. For example, in my district Pella schools received $252.86 per student, North Mahaska received $486.32 per student, and Oskaloosa received $1,058.21 per student. All this while Des Moines received $1,722.03 per student, Cedar Rapids received $1,225.28 per student, Davenport received $1,920.73 per student, and Waterloo received $1,798.36 per student. I think its important to keep these numbers in mind and look at the entire additional funding available to schools this year due to COVID.

In addition to the passage of HF 532, last week House Republicans also passed a Supplemental State Aid (SSA) increase for schools of 2.4% for FY22 for both the Regular Program and the Categorical Supplements. It also extends the Property Tax Relief Payment (PTRP) an additional year which has the state pick up any property tax growth in the Additional Levy portion of the school funding formula.

The State Cost Per Pupil (SCPP) amount on which the school aid formula is based increases from $7,048 to $7,217, a $169 increase. However, this amount will increase to $7227 because this bill includes a $10 State Cost Per Pupil increase to narrow the District Cost Per Pupil (DCPP) gap. This also continues to address transportation equity which is raised at the same rate as SSA.

The percentage is on par with what has been done in recent years, but the fact of the matter is enrollment was down by about 7,000 students. Despite what you may be hearing, public school funding is not cut under this proposal. This is a 2.4% increase.
Since 2011, House Republicans have prioritized students and schools with continuous increases for Supplemental State Aid, transportation equity, and adding an additional ten dollars per student to address equity issues.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet for its annual spring meeting on Friday, March 19 at 11 am. The three-member panel will review its current projections for Fiscal Year 2021 and 2022, and set an initial projection for state revenue in Fiscal Year 2023.

The impact of the meeting depends on any adjustments, up or down, to the FY 2022 forecast. If the panel determines the state will collect more revenue than they had predicted at their December meeting, then the Legislature is required to still use the December numbers. However, if the March REC forecast for FY 2022 is lower than December’s, then the Legislature is required to use the March figure.

Of particular interest at this meeting will be any changes to the forecast for gaming tax revenue collected. The March meeting will be the first by the REC in which it has information on the impact of casino gaming coming to Nebraska. The new competition is likely to reduce the tax collections used to fund the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. It is expected the meeting will be available via the internet.

Finally, it was great to welcome FFA students from Pella Christian and North Mahaska to the Capitol this week, alongside Representative Brink, Senator Sinclair and Senator Rozeboom. The Capitol remains open to the public this year, and I encourage you visit this session, or plan a trip for next year when the pandemic is behind us. As always, please email me at dustin.hite@legis.iowa.gov if you would like to schedule a visit, or if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

Posted by on Feb 20 2021. Filed under Local News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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