I am honored to have the opportunity to start work again at the Capitol. The 86th Iowa General Assembly is underway, and I’m ready to get started on what I’m certain will be an exciting year.
While the first week contains a lot of ceremonial speeches and Constitutional formalities, we have already taken our first look at Governor Branstad’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget, and a few other priorities from the Governor’s Condition of the State Address.
The Governor’s proposed budget serves as the starting point for our work. We will take this budget, and continue to refine it to meet the priority needs of Iowans while protecting Iowa taxpayers. The hard-working people of this state deserve a state government that looks for ways to do more with less. We must not be afraid to make tough choices, just as all of us do at home with our own personal finances.
House Republicans are dedicated to a balanced budget. House Republicans will once again pass a budget that does not spend more than the state’s on-going revenue, does not use one-time funds to pay for ongoing expenses, does not intentionally underfund entitlements to balance the books, and returns unused tax dollars to Iowa taxpayers.
Each of the past four years, the budget passed by the Legislature has spent less than what the Governor proposed. I am confident that our Fiscal Year 2016 budget will continue this trend.
As we look for ways to save taxpayer dollars in the budget, in is important to keep in mind that 90% of Iowa’s budget is spent in three areas: School aid ($2.9 billion), Medicaid ($1.6 billion) and wages and benefits for state employees ($2.1 billion). Savings within these areas are especially difficult to achieve due to our collective commitment to education, mandates which come down to from the federal government on Medicaid, and collective bargaining restrictions which prevent us from reforming public employee compensation.
As always, it is an honor to serve the people of Iowa. Please contact me anytime with questions, concerns or ideas for how we can continue to move our state forward.