The Iowa House has given final legislative approval to an emergency allotment of one-point-three million dollars ($1.3 million) that will cover tuition costs for Iowa National Guard soldiers who’ve enrolled in college courses. Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, has heard from a number of soldiers in his district who saw their individual benefits cut by 13-hundred dollars for this semester. “During the first week of the legislature, I know that I received emails from several of our Guardsmen from the 185th Air Refueling Wing,” Hall says.
The Iowa Senate approved the bill last week, but Republicans delayed action in the Iowa House to ensure the Guard indeed needed that much money to fulfill its tuition grant promises. Representative Royd Chambers, a Republican from Sheldon who is a member of the Iowa Air National Guard, says Republicans were just going their “due dilligence” in checking the numbers. “We are, of course, all in support of supporting our National Guard members,” Chambers says. “But we also must remember that we are responsible for spending our tax dollars wisely and efficiently.”
Legislators set aside the money for the program last year, before about three-thousand Iowa National Guard soldiers came back to Iowa after active duty in Afghanistan. The Guard announced in December that Education Assistance grants to its soldiers would be cut because there wasn’t enough money set aside to cover the tuition grants for the 14-hundred Iowa National Guard soldiers who’re enrolled in college. Governor Branstad has indicated he’ll sign the legislation. In other action this morning, the Iowa House approved spending three-million dollars in state money to help restore the U-S-S Iowa, a World War II era battleship that will be docked in Los Angeles as a floating museum. The Iowa Senate approved that level of spending on the project last week.