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Iowa Democrats propose $300 million increase in funding for public schools

The proposal comes in response to a series of bills by Republicans designed to combat the state's teacher shortage.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa House and Senate Democrats proposed a $300 million increase in funding for public education Tuesday.

Party leaders said the money would allow schools to reduce class sizes, raise teacher pay, buy new books, support mental health and fix the teacher shortage

This week, Republicans announced several proposals aimed at addressing the shortage, like reducing some education requirements for teachers and allowing student-teachers to serve as substitutes.

Some Democrats spoke out in support of those bills, but leaders said while they don't know the ins and outs yet—at face value they're not the answer.

"If Governor Reynolds has $300 million to put towards a corporate, another corporate tax cut, then there is room in our budget to invest $300 million in Iowa's kids," said House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights).

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D-Coralville) emphasized the need for highly-qualified and well-paid teachers.

"We believe that Iowa's great public schools are our most important recruitment and retention tool to bring families to our state and keep them here," Wahls said.

The proposal would increase state supplemental aid by 5%.

Republicans in the House and Senate have not yet announced proposals for supplemental aid.

Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing a 2.5% increase, which is about 150 million dollars.

RELATED: Iowa lawmakers consider series of bills to tackle teacher shortage

RELATED: Iowa Senate Republicans call for 3.6% flat income tax, eventually phasing out personal income tax altogether

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