The Iowa Legislature unveiled a proposed state budget for education Tuesday that makes $20 million in spending cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, including eliminating funding for two research centers at state universities.
The reductions would not affect K-12 programs, which have already been promised a 1.1 percent increase in state aid for the upcoming academic year. But the cuts would eliminate a $1.5 million state appropriation for the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa, effectively shutting it down. The plan also eliminates $397,000 in funding for Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
The proposed education budget would effectively reduce education spending from $928 million during the current fiscal year to $908 million during the fiscal year starting July 1, 2017. That’s a decrease of about 2.1 percent from the current education budget, which already has been reduced twice since the start of the fiscal year more than nine months ago.
The budget proposal was advanced by a House-Senate appropriations subcommittee on an 8-5 vote with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against. The measure could receive final approval by the House and Senate later this week or early next week.
Minority Democrats attacked the reductions, saying they demonstrate a lack of commitment to education. Majority Republicans said they were being fiscally responsible and spending only the money that is available.
Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, a retired farmer who co-chairs the education budget subcommittee, defended the tight spending plan. He said it’s unfortunate that the money is less than hoped but, “That’s the situation we are in.”
But Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, an economics professor at Iowa State University, angrily condemned the Republican-sponsored budget plan.
“If you vote yes, you are voting for an…