Common Good Iowa

Vouchers a radical blow to Iowa’s commitment to free, universal public education

Posted on January 18, 2023 at 10:40 AM by Anne Discher

Common Good Iowa executive director delivered the following comments at the January 17, 2023, public hearing on HSB 1, which would establish an expansive, damaging private-school voucher program: 

My name is Anne Discher and I’m executive director of Common Good Iowa. I’m here to speak against House Study Bill 1. This bill is a radical blow to Iowa’s longstanding commitment to free, universal public education.

Public schools are Iowa’s responsibility because public school students are Iowa’s responsibility. Under this proposal, as public schools lose resources — and they will — so will public-school students, who comprise the overwhelming majority of Iowa children.

First, if a school district loses enrollment to private religious schools, they lose $7,600 per student.

Second, whether or not they lose enrollment to private religious schools, public schools are at risk, as state dollars are spread more and more thin covering a voucher plan that is far more radical than proposed last year. Under this plan, within a matter of years, the state would pay private tuition for any family with virtually no limits.

And this proposal comes on top of years of underfunding our schools. Iowa lawmakers for 13 years have kept school funding below costs — approving increases to Supplemental State Aid of just 2 percent on average. (That figure includes the 2.5 percent increase proposed for FY 2024.)

And that’s happening on top of tax cuts approved last year — tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Iowans — that will take nearly $2 billion out of the General Fund by FY 2027 and FY 2028.

This reckless approach would harm the many good things happening in our schools. Please do not advance it.

Categories: PK-12 schools

Tagged As: Income tax, Vouchers

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