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Governor's education bill could be debated next week

The bill is set to be debated in both the House and Senate during the third week of the Iowa legislative session

DES MOINES, Iowa — As Iowa lawmakers prepare to head into the third week of the legislative session, it's become clear what the first bill up for debate on both the House and Senate floors will be.

Legislators will tackle Gov. Kim Reynolds' education bill, which contains education savings accounts for Iowa students and families to use toward private schooling.

"At the end of the day, it's still about the parent making the decision," said Republican House Speaker Pat Grassley. "That's what the objective, this entire goal is."

When asked if Grassley felt he had the votes in the House to move the bill forward he replied, "I don't think I'd be moving the bill along throughout the process if we didn't have that expectation."

His Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, says it feels like the bill is being rushed through without proper vetting. 

"It seems like inside baseball," said Konfrst. "But what Iowans need to know, is that Republicans are pushing this through so quickly that they're not even allowing their colleagues on the committee that looks at the overall state budget, a chance to look at the bill and ask some questions. That is just completely that is unheard of it is irresponsible."

The state's independent Legislative Services Agency typically provides an estimate for how much a bill could cost, but it remains unclear if that report will be ready by the time lawmakers debate.

"We'd like to see them from a nonpartisan source," Konfrst added. "We hear we might get one on Monday. But, you know, that's not a lot of time to look over something that's going to be a billion-dollar project over four years."

"The goal is obviously to have that," said Grassley. "But if we don't have that we have been very transparent, clear with what the costs are not just with this, but in the entirety of their budget moving forward up to even five years ... that's really a long projection to make any sort of budget decision based off of it from a standpoint of being very transparent."

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Once debate begins in both the House and Senate, there's no timetable on how long that will run until a final vote takes place. 

"There's time between now and the debate to let your legislators know what the impact of this legislation will be on your rural districts on your school districts on your community and on our state's budget," said Konfrst. 

"I think we've come up with a really good bill here," said Grassley. "I think the Governor has proposed a really strong bill that addressed a lot of any concerns that may have existed over the last two years in the debate that we've had."

The Senate has adjourned until 1 p.m. Monday, while the House will be back in session at 9 a.m. Friday.

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