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Capitol Digest: IPERS change

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Iowa Legislature 2019

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019:

IPERS CHANGE: After the state public employee retirement system became a campaign issue and after a key Republican legislator said there would be no changes to IPERS this year, a Democratic lawmaker is proposing an interim committee to look at changes to the program that covers approximately 360,000 Iowans.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, has sponsored HF 252 that would require the public retirement system committee to look at the feasibility of allowing IPERS to use internal investment management.

IPERS Chief Investment Officer Karl Koch told lawmakers in January that an independent study of internal investment management had been commissioned. There is a potential to save $1 million a year, he said, but there would be startup costs for employees and necessary technology. To attract investment managers, he said, IPERS likely would have to offer significant incentive-based bonuses or commissions. Currently, management fees are paid to out-of-state organizations.

SCHOOL AID: Plans to increase state aid to local school districts by more than $89 million in the coming school year won committee approval Wednesday and are headed to floor debates as early as Monday.

“This is a little smaller crowd than we’ve had lots of times to discuss (school aid),” House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, said during a subcommittee meeting that drew four speakers.

The GOP plan, HSB 109, to increase school aid to nearly $3.3 billion was approved by education committees in the House and Senate on Wednesday. The plan is supported by groups representing school boards as well as both urban and rural school districts. A representative of the teachers’ union said a 3 percent increase is needed to make up for small increases in recent years.

The plan includes: a 2.1 percent increase in general funding, or $78.6 million; $7.8 million to help districts with outsized transportation costs; and a $5-per-pupil boost in the school funding formula, or $2.9 million.

Dolecheck said he expects lawmakers to approve an extension of SAVE, a 1-cent sales tax for school infrastructure.


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