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SCHOOLS TAKE CENTER STAGE AT CAPITOL

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As we finish up the first four weeks of session, the Legislature is focusing most of its attention on school funding.  Education is our state's biggest expense - 55% of the state's budget goes to education.  This year the Governor recommended increasing school aid by only 1.25%. That increase may seem small, but the money needed to make it happen is not ($150 million). 

The House passed this bill (House File 80) last week, and the Senate has plans to debate it next week. The Senate plans to amend the increase to 4%, but schools want 6%.  Given the tough budget year ahead, and a possible $206 million shortfall in Medicaid, legislators will need to strike a compromise or risk having no money to spend on other state programs and services.  As you can see, the job of a legislator is not easy, and balancing priorities like this can be very difficult.

Legislators are also looking ahead, realizing they are halfway to the first legislative deadline.  You may have heard us talk about "funnels" before.  The Legislature has two deadlines called "funnels."  The term gives you a good visual - bills are dumped into the top of a funnel, and must make it out of the narrow bottom before the deadline.  In the Iowa Legislature, bills must be voted out of committee before Friday, March 6 to stay alive.  Bills that fail to make it out of committee by this first funnel deadline will be set aside for the year, but may be taken up again next year.

That means you - the advocate - should look at the bills introduced so far this year (click here to view our Bill Tracker). If you see something you like (or don't like) - let your legislators know!  Ask them to help you.  Even if they are not on the committees discussing the issues you care about, you can always ask them to talk to their friends that are on those committees.  Your legislator is also your advocate - but they can't help you if they don't hear from you!

  • You can use our simple Grassroots Action Center to send your legislator an email.  You do not need an email address to do this (although you may get a faster response if you give them one). 

  • You can also say hello to your legislators at a town hall meeting or public forum near you.  These meetings are usually held on Fridays and Saturdays.  If you dont' see your legislator on our list, call or email them and ask them when they plan to hold a forum.  If you hear of forums not on our list, email us at infonet@idaction.org and we'll get them added to the list!