DES MOINES, Iowa — The third time will be different, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds hopes. 2023’s makeup of state lawmakers has changed. More than one-third of them are new members. Nearly two-thirds are now Republicans, the governor’s political party.
Over the past two years, the governor proposed shifting tens of millions in public dollars to help families with students in private schools. Both times, Republicans in the House stopped her plan. In 2022, the legislative session essentially stopped for a month due to the disagreement. Following its completion, the governor worked to defeat some of those Republican House members who disagreed with her. Four of them lost to primary competitors who backed the governor’s plan for private schools.
“Some families may want an education that conforms to their faith and moral convictions,” she said before lawmakers, “Some kids may have ambitions and abilities that require a unique educational setting. Others may experience bullying or have special needs. Regardless of the reason, every parent should have a choice of where to send their child. And that choice shouldn’t be limited to families who can afford it.”
Her plan would create education savings accounts for families with students in private school (for existing private school students and for those switching to private schools). The state would put $7,598 into those accounts to pay for a private school.
The governor didn’t lay out this additional item in her speech but her staff said that the public school that is in the student’s home district would still receive $1,200 in funding, even though that student went to a private school instead.
House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said that her caucus will oppose this new version of the voucher plan and hopes that Republicans will join in defeating it.