Iowa state Sen. Janet Petersen on Tuesday called on Gov Kim Reynolds to use her line-item veto power to resist a nearly $30 million cut to Iowa’s Area Education Agencies in the recently passed state budget.
“The state budget approved by Republican lawmakers slashes $22 million from special education services while handing over $107 million in Iowa taxpayer dollars to pay for Republicans’ new private school voucher program,” Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said.
“Iowans should be outraged. Taking away millions of dollars from our children’s special education services in every region of the state to pay for her new private school voucher program is wrong,” Petersen said. “Governor Reynolds should veto the cut.”
Republican majorities in the Iowa House and Senate passed a budget earlier this month that reduces funding to the agencies by a total of $29.5 million – despite a $2 billion state budget surplus and Iowa’s growing need for AEA services.
AEAs provide special education services to both public and private schools on a regional basis. Demand for those services will grow in coming years – and funding will decrease – as more students use vouchers to attend private schools that do not provide in-school special education services.
The bill containing the budget cuts has passed the legislature, but it has not yet been signed into law. Gov. Reynolds has the authority to strike specific line items from budget bills, meaning that she could remove $22 million in AEA budget cuts while approving the remainder of the bill.
Petersen on Tuesday also encouraged Iowans to contact the governor and add their voices to the call to preserve funding for children’s AEAs and special education in Iowa.
“Please call the governor’s office at 515-281-5211 and let her know that our AEAs provide vital services to Iowa’s kids who need it most,” Petersen said. “If the state can afford $107 million to subsidize exclusive private schools, it can also afford $22 million to ensure quality special education services continue in every Iowa community.”
Petersen, D-Des Moines, is the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which leads the budget-writing process in the Senate.