The private school voucher program pursued by Gov. Kim Reynolds and other Republican leaders in the Legislature does not have broad support from Iowans.
Conversations during the legislative session showed widespread rejection of the proposal, and the Data for Progress poll conducted for Starting Line confirms this.
When asked, 71% of respondents answered: “Public schools are vital for the education of our children. They have been underfunded for too long, and we need to fund and protect them so they can continue to serve our communities.
It was the majority position across all political parties with 56% of Republicans, 70% of independents or third party members, and 91% of Democrats agreeing.
Similarly, a 60% majority of Iowans oppose Reynolds’ proposed policy to create state-funded scholarships for students to attend private schools.
Republicans were the only group that backed him by a narrow majority, with 48% for and 44% against. Only 11% of Democrats and 29% of independents/third parties support him.
The poll was conducted July 22-29, with a survey of 637 likely voters and a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.
His plan, contained in Senate File 2369, would have diverted $55 million from public school budgets for up to 10,000 scholarships to pay students to attend private schools.
The measure failed in the Legislature this spring, largely due to a handful of rural Iowa House Republicans who acknowledged that vouchers could hurt public schools in their districts, which are less likely to have private schools nearby. These Republicans would not vote for the measure, despite weeks of negotiation.
“I think a lot of people in rural Iowa are very worried that this could mean the end of their little school districts at some point — not today, not tomorrow, but maybe five or 10 years from now,” Rep. Jon Thorup (R-Knoxville), a Deputy Majority Leader, told the Des Moines Register at the time. “There’s just a lot of fear among even a lot of Republicans.”
In response, Reynolds threw his support behind those Republicans’ competitors in the June primary election in Iowa, many of whom backed the voucher plan. As a result, many of those Republicans who opposed Reynolds’ plan lost their primaries.
Thorup was one of them.
Reynolds said the bon proposal would likely come back in the next legislative session, for the third time, despite Iowans not wanting it.
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