Reynolds signs her school choice bill

Governor Reynolds signs the school elections law. (RI photo)

Gov. Kim Reynolds says a state website will be available later today to provide information to low-income parents who wish to enroll for nearly $7,600 in state funds to help pay for their child’s private school.

“They can put their name on a list … a place where if they have questions, they can also answer them,” Reynolds said early this afternoon.

Reynolds spoke to reporters shortly after signing legislation this fall creating the new program for parents with children in private schools. In 2026, state funding will be available to all Iowa families with a private school student.

“What a great day for our children and parents!” said Reynolds.

A crowd of lawmakers and state and national activists who have been campaigning for the law cheered as Reynolds spoke in the Capitol.

“Great progress often comes from a willingness to challenge the status quo, think outside the box, be open to change, and lead,” Reynolds said. “…We reject the idea that the answer to improving education is simply to pump more money into the same system year after year without making significant changes.”

Supporters of the bill surround the governor. (RI photo)

Reynolds proposed far smaller programs in 2021 and 2022, but none garnered enough GOP support in the Iowa House. In the June primary, the governor campaigned against some Republican opponents in the House, and the bill passed the House easily last night with 54 Republican “yes” votes. House Speaker Pat Grassley said it was the culmination of what Republicans had told voters.

“We said that the Iowa Republican Party will take the lead on education issues in Iowa, and I think this is just another example of how we’re delivering on that promise,” Grassley said, and the governor let out a yell and led the crowd in applause.

Republican Senate leader Jack Whitver credited Reynolds with being “tireless” in pursuing this goal. “I also want to thank the many Senate Republicans who, in some cases, have fought through the noise and misinformation for decades — as you hear — and advocated for all parents to have the same educational choices as parents with the means, who can afford it,” said Whitver.

Democratic Senator Claire Celsi of Des Moines was the only protester to shout “no one wants coupons” during Whitver’s remarks and a few times during the event.

The new program to provide state funds to cover private school expenses is in full swing. The governor said companies wanting to compete to manage the state-funded accounts can submit bids later in the day.