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2018 Session –
SSB 3206 -Introduced on March 21 and passed through Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on March 22, awaiting consideration by whole Senate Appropriations Committee. Bill creates an Education Savings Grant program for Kindergarteners and transfer students, similar to HSB 651, but the amount of the grant is 60% of state per-pupil expenditure amount. As of the second week of April, this bill is still pending.
HSB 651 – Created an Education Savings Grant program for Kindergarteners and transfer students who had spent at least two semesters in a public school. The bill made it out of the House Education Subcommittee but failed to make it to a full Education Committee vote before the “funnel deadline” of February 16.
SSB3197 – is a large tax reform bill introduced by Senate Ways and Means Chair Senator Randy Feenstra. It includes an increase of $1 million in the School Tuition Organization Tax Credit cap (from $12 million to $13 million) and an expansion in eligibility to include families with income at 400% poverty level or below (currently set at 300%).
SSB3195 – is the Governor’s proposed budget bill. This includes a provision coupling state law on 529 savings plans to the recent Federal tax law changes allowing parents to pay nonpublic K-12 tuition with 529 funds. Iowa is one of a few states that will require legislative action in order for state law to comply with the recent Federal tax changes on 529s. While we consider this tax reform legislation – not school choice – we will keep an eye on this issue as we know it potentially impacts nonpublic school families.
You can find more information on the Federal tax law changes and 529 plans in this informative publication from our national partners. ExcelinEd.EdChoice.AFC_.529ExpansionMemo.February2018
UPCOMING – We still expect another Education Savings Account bill to come out of the Senate, and we will be working on the STO increase, as well.
2017 SESSION – The 2017 legislative session concluded in the wee hours of Saturday, April 22.
SCHOOL TUITION ORGANIZATION PROGRAM – The STO tax credit program was not cut this session, which is a school choice victory, in light of the dire budget projections. Some other tax credit programs were cut. The program cap was not raised, nor was the income eligibility level, as proposed by some legislators.
EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNTS – We’ve all heard the discouraging news regarding the state revenue outlook. As a result, passage of an ESA did not happen. Keep in mind, this General Assembly is a two-year process – legislators are still interested in this idea and we will keep working on this during the interim. There are also ways to craft an ESA so that is has little or no impact on the state budget. If you support the concept of ESAs, please keep talking to your state legislators about this idea!
NONPUBLIC SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION –Senate File 516 – Funding of transportation services for nonpublic school students was cut in this budget bill. The funding was cut $278,000 in this current fiscal year. Next year’s budget continues cutting nonpublic school transportation funding for a total cut of $363,000. The funding is used by public school districts to provide transportation or to reimburse parents for the cost of transporting students to nonpublic schools, as required under state law.
VIRTUAL ACADEMIES – The enrollment cap on virtual academy enrollment was lifted by the legislature this session.
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