Education at Forefront of State Budget Talks


In the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers will begin to craft the new biennial budget, and it could be a long battle. They're bracing themselves for long discussions on key issues, including what some predict will take the most time -- state aid to schools.

Education is one of the largest pieces of budget pie, and as lawmakers head in to the second week of the legislative session, they'll explore ways to fund the school districts around the state.

Key lawmakers in the education talks will include the education committee chair, Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids.

Sullivan said it will take the work of at least two committees to move forward with the state aid to schools formula.

"I'm ready to serve with senator Mello, the new chair of the appropriations committee," she said. "We're going to have to go hand–in–hand down this road to craft the budget, because the budget really can't move significantly until we know what we're going to do with state aid to schools."

The 249 school districts across the state all have diverse education needs according to Sullivan.

"We spend 75 percent of our dollars in education and health and human services," Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney said, "so that's where we'll spend the most time."

The state aid formula does not provide aid to all schools in the state, because it says some districts can meet their needs with their own local resources.