It is exciting to be back to work at the Capitol for a new legislative session. During the first week, we hear several opening speeches and get our committees organized. We have heard from the Speaker, each party’s floor leader, Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State Address, and Chief Justice Cady’s Condition of the Judiciary address. Each speech has set forth a new agenda for this session, which this year represents many common goals.
Last year’s historic session demonstrated that the Iowa Legislature can work together for the Iowans we represent. We have proven that divided government in Iowa can work for the benefit of Iowans in a way that is nearly impossible in Washington D.C.
That spirit of cooperation has not changed for the 2014 session and we are ready to spend our time and energy on finding common ground to effectively manage the state budget and create certainty for hardworking Iowa taxpayers, families and employers.
While states around us fail to keep spending under control and are strangled by debt, here in Iowa we have created a fiscally strong and stable state by adherence to House Republicans’ core principles:
- Do not spend more money than the state collects in revenue
- Do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses
- Do not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget
- Return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers
Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall just three years ago. Today, we begin a new year spending just 88% of what our outdated expenditure limitation law allows, our budget reserves remain full and our ending balance is projected to be $928 million.
Instead of using this ending fund balance to grow the government, House Republicans have led the way on debt reduction by using a portion of the ending balance to pay off $114 million in commitments earlier than required.
The biggest task of each legislative session is passing a new state budget. As we make those decisions this year, we recognize that we still face challenging budget times and we must not endanger our past accomplishments.
It is an honor to continue to serve here at the Capitol. As always, I appreciate any thoughts or concerns that you might have. Please feel free to call or email me any time.