i9 Fact Checker: Ad claims schools saw $1 Billion increase over 10 years

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 5:46 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Editor’s Note: This story has been changed to reflect Priorities for Iowa, Inc. is a separate group from Priorities for Iowa Political Fund.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is using advertisements on television to make her argument for reforming how public schools in Iowa are funded, which was a campaign issue for her reelection campaign and her highest priority for the 2023 Legislative Session.

The plan, which is in House Bill 1, would allow all families to receive taxpayer-funded education savings accounts with more than $7,500 a year to pay for tuition, tutoring and other costs associated with attending a private school. The money given to families would come from a public school district’s budget, but public schools would receive $1,200 for any student who lives in the district and attends a private school.

Source: Priorities for Iowa, Inc.

According to its Facebook page, the group said on its Facebook page it is a non-partisan group of Iowans committed to educating and informing citizens on a variety of issues. Those issues include strengthening Iowa’s economy, standing up for Iowa families, and defining Iowa values.

According to documents from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), a super Political Action Committee called Priorities for Iowa Political Fund uses the same PO Box as Priorities for Iowa, Inc.

Documents from the federal regulating agency show Sara Craig, who is Gov. Reynold’s former Chief of Staff, was Priorities for Iowa Political Fund’s group’s organizing treasurer in 2014. A TV9 analysis of the group’s FEC data shows it received about $3.3 Million in donations from 2014 to 2022, of which about 3% came from Iowa. Two hedge fund managers, Kenneth Grifin and Paul Singer, gave the group around 43% of their donations.

Pat Garett, who is a former spokesperson for the Governor and campaign staff member, is responding to media requests for Priorities for Iowa, Inc.

Claim: “...and that’s why we’ve increased school funding by almost $1 Billion for 10 years.”

Analysis: Priorities for Iowa, Inc referred us to the numbers the Gov. Reynolds used in her Condition of the State Address when she announced her plan to the state legislature. She said the state is spending $3.6 Billion on PreK-12 education, which is $1 Billion more than the state provided in 2012.

According to documents from the Legislative Services Agency, the total state aid schools received was about $3.6 Billion for the 2023 fiscal year. Documents from the nonpartisan agency said the total amount of state aid schools received in 2012 was about $2.6 Billion.

State Democrats have continually argued the rate of these increases doesn’t account for the rate of inflation facing school districts, like other organizations across the country. According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index increased 27.4% from January 2012 to December 2022. However, the percent change in funding to public schools in Iowa is around 37%. This increase happened after the state legislature increased public school funding around 2% each year.

Conclusion: The claim made by Gov. Reynolds is true. The state has increased school funding by almost $1 Billion for 10 years and why it gets an A.