Iowa legislators discuss allowable growth at Fairfield Legislative Forum

KTVO caught up with lawmakers at Saturday's Legislative Forum in Fairfield, to discuss the hot topic of allowable growth for school districts not yet being set.

Each year the legislature tells schools how much they can spend.

The increase is called allowable growth and the standard is four percent.

Districts are supposed to have their budgets in place a year in advance, but it's impossible to do so if they don't have an allowable growth number.

Representative Curt Hanson said he was not in favor of the delay.

He said a figure should have been set months ago.

"We violated our own law," said Hanson. "I don't know how we can expect the children to learn from our examples when we're setting a very poor example at the state legislative level."

Hanson said if the allowable growth isn't set, schools will have to assume it's zero percent and base budgets off that figure. He said plenty of pink slips will be issued to teachers because of this uncertainty. When the budget finally comes through, he believes the pink slips will be rescinded.

Hanson thinks the allowable growth will be set during the very last days of the legislative session with the Senate and House reaching a compromise.

We also spoke to Senator Mark Chelgren about the delay in setting the allowable growth. Chelgren believes school districts shouldn't be compelled to comply with setting its budget if the legislature fails to do its job by setting its budget in time.

He also agreed with Hanson saying he thinks the allowable growth will be set last minute.

"When the budget comes forward we'll be able to look at what we have for total spending availability," said Chelgren. "And I think that it's going to be negotiated at the very end unfortunately. Because I don't believe that solves the problem in a timely manner that it should be solved in. But I believe that's what will happen."

Chelgren supports a four percent allowable growth.