Gov. Reynolds’ ‘school choice’ plan passes Iowa House and Senate

HALL. MORE BREAKING NEWS NOW FROM THE IOWA STATE HOUSE. GOVERNOR REYNOLDS SCHOOL CHOICE BILL HAS NOW PASSED THE IOWA HOUSE KCCI TO POLITICAL REPORTER AMANDA ROOKER IS LIVE AT THE CAPITOL BUILDING FOR US TONIGHT. AMANDA. IT IS NOW ON TO THE SENATE FOR THIS BILL. STEVE RIGHT NOW SENATE LAWMAKERS ARE TAKING UP THAT BILL THAT JUST PASSED THE HOUSE BUT NOT AFTER HOURS AND HOURS. MORE THAN 5 HOURS OF DEBATE WENT ON IN THAT HOUSE CHAMBER AS REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS SPARRED OVER WHETHER THIS EDUCATION BILL IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ALL IOWA STUDENTS. NOW, WE PULLED ASIDE A FEW LAWMAKERS RIGHT AFTER THAT VOTE HAPPENED. BOTH NEWLY ELECTED LAWMAKERS, ONE OF THOSE LAWMAKERS, REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE HELENA HAYS, SHE’S ONE OF THE REPRESENT NATIVES THAT GOVERNOR REYNOLDS ENDORSED. SHE BEAT OUT THE FORMER EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIR, DUSTIN HITE, WHO WAS AN OPEN SCHOOL CHOICE CRITIC. AND SHE ARGUES THAT THIS BILL IS GOING TO BE WHAT’S IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ALL IOWA KIDS AND EMPOWER PARENTS TO MAKE THE BEST CHOICE FOR THEIR KIDS. BUT ON THE OTHER SIDE, WE TALKED TO ALSO NEWLY ELECTED LAWMAKER DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE AUSTIN BATE, WHO SAID TONIGHT WAS HEARTBREAKING. HE SAYS THAT THIS WAS A BILL THAT HE CALLS FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE. AND HE SAYS THAT IT WAS HEARTBREAKING TO WATCH THAT VOTE HAPPEN. AND IT’S BEEN AN EXHAUSTING PROCESS. IT’S BEEN A HEARTBREAKING PROCESS AS I WAS EVEN WITH SOME KIDS IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TODAY, A PUBLIC SCHOOL IN DES MOINES HERE AND LOOKING AT THEM, KNOWING THAT THIS COULD HAPPEN TONIGHT AND KNOWING THAT THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE TO GET BY WITH EVEN FEWER RESOURCES THAN THEY HAVE NOW IS HEARTBREAKING TO ME. YOU KNOW, TONIGHT THEY WERE LEGISLATURE LET DOWN A HALF A MILLION KIDS IN THIS STATE. IT’S BEEN A VERY EXCITING NIGHT. YOU KNOW, AND AS I LISTEN TO THE DEBATE TONIGHT, I REALIZE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE THAT THIS WAS ACTUALLY DECIDED BACK IN THE PRIMARIES. AND WHAT GOVERNOR REYNOLDS HAS DONE TO TAKE A STAND FOR CHILDREN ALL ACROSS THE BOARD AND I KNOW WE HEARD A LOT OF OPPOSITION TO THE ESSAYS DURING THE DEBATE, BUT WE ESPECIALLY THE FRESHMEN AND THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN HERE FOR MANY YEARS, WE’VE BEEN LISTENING TO CONSTITUENTS FOR YEARS ALREADY. AND SO THIS ISN’T ANYTHING NEW. WE’RE REALLY EXCITED. WE ARE PLEASED WITH THE VOTE. NOW, AGAIN, AND THIS IS A PLAN THAT WOULD USE TAXPAYER MONEY TO HELP SOME IOWANS PAY FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION. AND EVEN THOUGH IT PASSED THE HOUSE, IT STILL DOES NEED TO PASS THROUGH THE IOWA SENATE IN ORDER TO BECOME LAW. SENATE LAWMAKERS ARE STILL DEBATING, AND WE WILL MAKE SURE TO BRING YOU AN UPDATE AS SOON AS THAT VOTE HAPPENS. AGAIN, IF YOU DID PASS THE HOUSE, BUT NOT ALONG PARTY LINES, SOME REPUBLICANS CHOSE NOT TO SUPPORT THIS BILL. STEVE? THAT’S RIGHT. AND THAT IS A VERY RARE OCCASION. USUALLY WE SEE VOTES HAPPEN IN THE IOWA STATE HOUSE ALONG PARTY LINES. ALL REPUBLICANS VOTE ONE WAY, ALL DEMOCRATS VOTE ONE WAY. BUT THIS BILL WAS ACTUALLY 54 TO 45. THAT MEANS THAT AT LEAST NINE REPUBLICANS BROKE WITH THE MAJORITY DECISION AND VOTED AGAINST THIS BILL. BUT IT WASN’T ENOUGH. THERE WAS ENOUGH REPUBLICAN SUPPORT TO GET THIS BILL ACROSS THE FINISH LINE. NOW WE WAIT TO SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE SENATE. STEVE. ALL RIGHT, AMANDA ROOKER THANK YOU VERY MUCH, AMANDA. WE’LL CONTINUE TO WATCH THE DEBATE TONIGHT IN THE SENATE. STATE AUDITOR ROB SAND, A DEMOCRAT, SAYS HE IS CONCERNED ABOUT TRANSPARENCY WHEN IT COMES TO STATE TAX MONEY BEING USED TO PAY PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION. HE SAYS PRIVATE SCHOOLS DO NOT HAVE THE SAME PUBLIC RECORD AND AUDITING REQUIREMENT AS THEY ARE TO BEGIN TAX DOLLARS AND GIVING THEM TO PRIVATE ENTITIES WHILE GIVING TAXPAYERS NO RIGHT TO KNOW HOW THEY’RE USING THOSE TAX DOLLARS. IOWA DEMOCRATS SAY THEY STILL HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS PLAN WILL COST AND HOW MUCH THE STATE WILL HAVE TO PAY. A PRIVAT

Gov. Reynolds’ ‘school choice’ plan passes Iowa House and Senate

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, state lawmakers approved Gov. Reynolds’ plan to use taxpayer money to pay private school tuition. The bill passed with a 55-45 vote in the Iowa House and a 31-18 vote in the Iowa Senate. Reynolds is expected to sign the bill into law Tuesday afternoon.After nearly five hours of debate, all Iowa House Democrats voted against the bill. Nine Republicans also voted against the bill: Michael Bergan, Brian Best, Jane Bloomingdale, Chad Ingels, Brian Lohse, Gary Mohr, Thomas Moore, David Sieck and Brent Siegrist. In the bill, HF 68, any family with a K-12 student who wants to switch from public to private school during the next school year would receive roughly $7,600 from the state — the full amount of taxpayer money the state invests in every student.That money usually goes to a student’s public school district. But under Reynolds’ plan, families who switch to private schools would get that money instead.Once fully phased in, the plan would cost the state more than $340 million annually.House Republicans voted to exempt the bill from the traditional budgetary process requiring consideration in the House Appropriations or Ways and Means Committees, a process that every other bill that appropriates money is required to go through.Republicans argue the plan will empower parents to send their kids to whatever school provides the best educational opportunity to fit their unique needs.“It’s been a very exciting night… And as I listen to the debate tonight, I realize that a lot of people don’t realize that this was actually decided back in the primaries. What Governor Reynolds has done to take a stand for children all across the board, and I know we heard a lot of opposition to the ESAs during the debate. But we, especially the freshman and the people who have been here for many years. We’ve been listening to constituents for years already. This isn’t anything new. We’re really excited. We’re pleased with the vote,” Republican Rep. Helena Hayes said.Democrats say the bill lacks fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability. “It’s been an exhausting process. It’s been a heartbreaking process. I was even with some kids in an elementary school today, a public school in Des Moines, here. And looking at them, knowing that this could happen tonight and knowing that they’re going to have to get by with even fewer resources than they have now is heartbreaking to me. Tonight, the Iowa legislature let down a half-a-million kids in the state,” Democratic Rep. Austin Baeth said.Before the vote, State Auditor Rob Sand, who is a Democrat, expressed concerns about oversight of the plan.”With no transparency obligations, no required public audits, no public records and no public meetings, uncovering waste, fraud and abuse of your tax dollars will be much harder,” Sand said.This is a developing story. Stay tuned to KCCI on-air and online for updates. Previous coverage:

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, state lawmakers approved Gov. Reynolds’ plan to use taxpayer money to pay private school tuition. The bill passed with a 55-45 vote in the Iowa House and a 31-18 vote in the Iowa Senate.

Reynolds is expected to sign the bill into law Tuesday afternoon.

After nearly five hours of debate, all Iowa House Democrats voted against the bill. Nine Republicans also voted against the bill: Michael Bergan, Brian Best, Jane Bloomingdale, Chad Ingels, Brian Lohse, Gary Mohr, Thomas Moore, David Sieck and Brent Siegrist.

In the bill, HF 68, any family with a K-12 student who wants to switch from public to private school during the next school year would receive roughly $7,600 from the state — the full amount of taxpayer money the state invests in every student.

That money usually goes to a student’s public school district. But under Reynolds’ plan, families who switch to private schools would get that money instead.

Once fully phased in, the plan would cost the state more than $340 million annually.

House Republicans voted to exempt the bill from the traditional budgetary process requiring consideration in the House Appropriations or Ways and Means Committees, a process that every other bill that appropriates money is required to go through.

Republicans argue the plan will empower parents to send their kids to whatever school provides the best educational opportunity to fit their unique needs.

“It’s been a very exciting night… And as I listen to the debate tonight, I realize that a lot of people don’t realize that this was actually decided back in the primaries. What Governor Reynolds has done to take a stand for children all across the board, and I know we heard a lot of opposition to the ESAs during the debate. But we, especially the freshman and the people who have been here for many years. We’ve been listening to constituents for years already. This isn’t anything new. We’re really excited. We’re pleased with the vote,” Republican Rep. Helena Hayes said.

Democrats say the bill lacks fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability.

“It’s been an exhausting process. It’s been a heartbreaking process. I was even with some kids in an elementary school today, a public school in Des Moines, here. And looking at them, knowing that this could happen tonight and knowing that they’re going to have to get by with even fewer resources than they have now is heartbreaking to me. Tonight, the Iowa legislature let down a half-a-million kids in the state,” Democratic Rep. Austin Baeth said.

Before the vote, State Auditor Rob Sand, who is a Democrat, expressed concerns about oversight of the plan.

“With no transparency obligations, no required public audits, no public records and no public meetings, uncovering waste, fraud and abuse of your tax dollars will be much harder,” Sand said.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to KCCI on-air and online for updates.

Previous coverage:

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