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Iowa Governor Says She’s ‘Never Gonna Give Up’ on Private School Scholarships

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters on April 13. (Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch)

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Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she’s “never gonna give up” on state-funded private school scholarships for Iowa students, a proposal that has been a major sticking point in end-of-session negotiations at the Iowa Capitol.

“If we don’t do that, I’m going to come back next year,” Reynolds said. “I believe so strongly in giving every parent this opportunity.”

This is the second year Reynolds has pushed the Legislature to create a private school scholarship program for public school students. Under this year’s proposal, the state would allow up to 10,000 students to use part of their per-pupil allocation for private school tuition. 

“I don’t believe that a parent, because of the income that they make, should be the only one to have that opportunity (to send a child to private school),” Reynolds told reporters. “I fundamentally disagree with that.”

Will lawmakers pass private school scholarships this year?

The Senate passed Reynolds’ private school proposal in late March. The legislation would also require schools to share all class material with parents, and schools would need written parental consent before using “sexually explicit material” in class.

But the House has yet to take up the legislation. Melissa Deatsch, spokesperson for the House Republicans, said conversations are ongoing between the caucus and Reynolds.

“Members have been able to express their constituents’ concerns as well as discuss the advantages to the proposal,” Deatsch said in an email. “Ultimately, our members are working hard to represent their district well. They will continue listening to their constituents on this and all other proposals remaining this session.”

The House killed a different version of the scholarships proposal last year, declining to take up the legislation ahead of a legislative deadline.

The scholarships are one of several major issues awaiting action at the Capitol. Republican leaders are still stalled on legislation about unemployment, education transparency and the state budget.

The 100th day of the legislative session is Tuesday. After that, lawmakers may continue to meet but they cannot collect their per diem pay.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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