The work of the 85th Iowa General Assembly is moving to conclusion, and the House continues to move forward on the final pieces of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. Our budget continues to adhere to our spending targets, and at the same time meets the priority needs of Iowans.
We must remain focused on the important work that is expected of us by Iowans, and House leadership has resisted other efforts to engage in partisan political theater. There will be plenty of time for campaigning after the legislative session ends, but now is the time to do the work the voters expect of us.
There has been some encouraging bipartisan progress already. The House has now taken action on all of the budgets we are set to originate for this year. Two of these budget bills - the Transportation appropriations bill and the bill funding Iowa’s judicial system – currently await the Governor’s signature. Agreement between the House and Senate has also been reached on the Administration & Regulation budget and the Economic Development budget.
The priority needs of Iowans have been reflected in the bills passed by the House. In our version of the Education budget, House Republicans implemented the second year of a tuition freeze for instate undergrad students and additional funds for support to community colleges. Additionally, tuition support for students attending Iowa’s private colleges is increased.
Increasing the number of state troopers has been a major priority for Iowans and House Republicans. Our appropriations for the Department of Public Safety provide for the hiring of thirty new Highway Patrol officers. Our Health and Human Services budget addresses inequities in funding for foster care providers and fund our federally-mandated Medicaid obligations.
House Republicans also have made a major commitment to our vertical infrastructure, by devoting $37 million to necessary major maintenance on state facilities, while turning down $7 million in earmarks. In the Agriculture and Natural Resources budget, we have also increased our commitment to improving Iowa’s lakes and waterways.
Through all of our work in the appropriations process, House Republicans have remained true to our core budgeting principles:
- We will spend less than the state collects;
- We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
- We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs;
The 2014 Legislative Session began with pledges from Republicans and Democrats to refrain from the D.C. style political potshots and partisanship that has led to government dysfunction at the federal level. Iowans expect better out of our state government, and we must continue to focus on the job at hand.