Most of the Republicans in the Iowa legislature voted for Governor Kim Reynolds’ top 2023 priority — a bill that will provide state-funded accounts for the parents of private school students. Republican Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake, who represents parts of Kossuth County, opened Monday’s House debate by saying the bill is about freedom.
Democrats like Representative Sue Cahill of Marshalltown say the choice is up to private school administrators since nothing requires private schools to accept all students.
After five and a half hours of debate, the bill cleared the House on a 55 to 45 vote. Senators debated in earnest for about three hours, passing the bill just before 12:30 Tuesday morning on a 31-to-18 vote. Representative Steven Holt, a Republican from Denison, says state funds will now follow a child to the school that best fits their needs.
Representative Thomas Moore of Griswold opposes the governor’s two, less expansive “school choice” proposals and he is one of nine House Republicans who voted against this year’s proposal.
In the first year, low-income parents who enroll a child in a private school could apply for nearly 76-hundred dollars in state funding to cover tuition, computers, textbooks and tutoring. In 2026, all private school parents could apply for the state money. Reynolds signed the bill late Tuesday morning.