Iowa General Assembly Passes Controversial Private School Voucher Legislation

This past week, the Iowa General Assembly passed a bill to use public tax dollars to fund private school education scholarships. Gov. Kim Reynolds, an outspoken supporter of private school vouchers, signed the bill Tuesday, just hours after it was voted out of the Iowa Senate. 

This school voucher bill is the third such push by Reynolds in as many years. In previous years, her proposals failed to pass out of the Iowa House of Representatives. Despite the fact that Reynolds’ own Republican party has controlled both houses of the Iowa General Assembly throughout her term in office, enough Republicans in past sessions broke with their party to join House Democrats, who were in uniform opposition to the bill. After heavily focusing on private school vouchers in her recent re-election campaign, Reynolds was finally able to narrowly pass a bill this year. 

Once implemented, the Iowa voucher scheme is projected to cost Iowa taxpayers $345 million each year, money that otherwise could have been sent to support Iowa’s underfunded public schools. The push for private school vouchers in Iowa came primarily from out-of-state entities like the so-called “American Federation for Children,” a scandal-ridden group founded and funded by the billionaire family of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos  

So far, there have been several bills filed by Texas legislators that would create similar private school voucher schemes in Texas. Like Iowa, lawmakers from both parties in the Texas House have long withstood pushes to implement private school voucher schemes, even as voucher bills have passed through the Texas Senate. It’s critical they do so again.