Reynolds Calls For State-Funded Savings Accounts To Cover Private School Expenses

Des Moines, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds is proposing state-funded savings accounts for parents who send their children to private school.

Reynolds outlined the plan during the annual Condition of the State address at the statehouse.

The governor’s plan would create Education Savings Accounts. In the next school year, about 76-hundred dollars in state money would be deposited in each account for low-income parents enrolling a child in a private school. In the third year, ALL Iowa parents would be eligible for state money to cover private school tuition and related expenses.

This is the third year Reynolds has asked the Republican-led legislature to pass a so-called “school choice” plan and this year’s bill is the most expansive. Reynolds campaigned against some fellow Republicans in the Iowa House who opposed her previous plans. This new proposal is expected to send nearly 107 million dollars to low-income Iowa parents who enroll their child in a private school for the next school year.

The governor’s staff did not have state spending estimates for future years, when all parents would be eligible for state funds to cover private school expenses for a child. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says the governor’s plan, in year three, will give taxpayer dollars to wealthy Iowans who can already afford to send their kids to private school.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says private schools aren’t REQUIRED to take students, and there’s no private school option in 42 Iowa counties.

A newly-created, five-member House committee will review the governor’s school choice plan at a meeting early this (Wednesday) afternoon. Jack Whitver, the Republican leader in the state Senate, suggests the governor’s bill could move quickly through the legislative process.

Reynolds also used last (Tuesday) night’s speech to reveal a state government reorganization plan. Reynolds hired a private consulting firm to help develop the outline, which would shrink the number of state agencies from 37 to 16.

The governor’s aides say there will be no employee layoffs and more than 215 million dollars would be saved over the next four years under the reorganization plan. Reynolds also called on legislators to provide one-and-a-half million dollars in state funding to groups that would offer parental counseling to men and teenage boys in at-risk households. This would be in addition to continued state funding for groups that provide pregnancy tests and other resources for expectant mothers.

Reynolds has not proposed new state abortion restrictions. The governor and Republican lawmakers say they’re waiting for an Iowa Supreme Court ruling on a six-week abortion ban that’s been blocked from taking effect.