At this writing, week eight of the session is drawing to a close, and when it does end we will have passed around 60 bills. Most of the bills passed were non-controversial, so there was not much debate or discussion.
Some of these bills can be completely disposed of in three or four minutes since most of the research and discussion takes place earlier in caucus. It is just a matter of presenting the bill on the floor and casting a vote. Once a vote is officially recorded, we move on to the next one.
This process sort of makes it look like the Legislature does shoddy work, but I can assure you that no bill makes it to the House floor until it has been thoroughly researched.
This week, the House and Senate finalized K-12 funding for the upcoming school year. Iowa schools will receive just shy of $100 million in new money for the 2020-2021 school year, with some additional dollars going towards targeted critical needs such as transportation costs.
Originally, the House voted to appropriate more funding than the Senate was willing to agree to, so we basically split the difference and came close to what Governor Reynolds was proposing. I was hoping for a higher amount, but this compromise was as good as it was going to get.
Over the last 10 years, school funding has increased by nearly $1 billion, and the state is spending about $3.4 billion on K-12 funding this year. That is 43% of our state budget. I believe this shows a total commitment to education by the House majority party, and I am honored to have been a part of it.
For many months, people have been talking about the issue of childcare, including the Governor. Right now, there are at least six bills advancing in the House that deal with this issue. A couple of them focus more on the business side of things. In other words, there are some companies that have daycare on site, and one bill offers incentives to those who expand their facilities.
Another part of the bill offers incentives to those companies that start new daycare centers. A different bill proposes to increase childcare assistance provider rates, and another expands the childcare tax credit to more families. Finally, there is legislation designed to encourage developers to build high-quality and safe facilities. These are all good bills, and I would be both surprised and disappointed if we adjourn without passing something.
It is March, the basketball tournaments are in town, the weather is decent and our session is more than half over. Getting education funding settled paves the way for other legislation to move forward, which includes housing, workforce development, broadband and healthcare. We also need to pass the state budget, so we have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.