I want to begin by saying thank you to all the members of the Iowa House of Representatives. Thank you for the time you’ve sacrificed away from your families, home and careers; and thank you for your commitment to the people of our great state, this session has certainly been unique.
And, special recognition and thank you to the House Majority Leader, the lady from Hancock, Representative Linda Upmeyer. Madam Leader, your leadership, hard work and resolve during the past six months has been tremendous. House Republicans and Iowans appreciate your tireless efforts.
I’d also like to recognize Representative McCarthy for his leadership and efforts to work in a civil and responsible manner. Having previously served as the Minority Leader, I understand and appreciate the challenges you face.
I also want to thank the leadership staff: Josie, Noreen, Terri, Tony and Matt. Thank you for everything you have done this year.
And, thank you to the House Republican Caucus staff for your thorough and timely policy work. Jeff, Lew, Lon, Brad, Jason, Kristi, Jill, Amanda, Louis and Dustin; you continue to impress me with your knowledge and work ethic and you have served the caucus well.
And, thank you to the Chief Clerk, Charlie Smithson, and the hard work of your staff. Having served in the United States Air Force, I am well aware that in every operation there are individuals essential to its success that are rarely recognized and I thank each of you for your service and ensuring the House runs smoothly.
A special thank you to LSA for all of your hard work as well.
Lastly, thanks to Governor Branstad. I appreciate your leadership and your commitment to accomplishing the goals Iowans elected us to tackle.
As I said, this session has been unique. Unique because the first session of the 84th General Assembly will be recorded as one of the longest lasting sessions in the history of the State of Iowa. It is important to understand why this session has lasted as long as it has.
The short explanation is there are philosophical disagreements among passionate Majority Caucuses. The people of Iowa chose to elect a Republican Governor, Republican House and Democrat Senate. Typically, with a divided government things take a little longer to progress. I do not believe this is necessarily a bad thing because it forces individuals with differing perspectives to engage and work together to find agreement. It is healthy for the process and it is what Iowans expect out of their elected officials.
That said, at the beginning of the year, House Republicans committed to an important set of principles:
• Put Iowans back to work
• make it easier to be an employer in the State of Iowa
• refuse to spend more than the state takes in
• shrink the size, scope and cost of state government
• and give the taxpayers a seat at the table.
Through One Hundred and Seventy Two days we have not wavered from those principals. They have not changed and they will not change.
Make no mistake, there will be long days and hard work ahead in subsequent sessions, hopefully, however, they won’t last as long as this one. But if they do, it is because this body will do whatever it takes to conduct the people’s work while honoring its principals and commitments.
Staying true to those principals, this chamber has passed legislation to accomplish many positive things for the people of Iowa.
First and foremost, this chamber has provided Iowa employers with the certainty of a pro-growth environment needed to put Iowans back to work.
We stopped the relentless assault on Iowa employers by successfully defending Iowa’s Right to Work Law. We also protected Iowans from other previously proposed job killing measures. We sent a powerful message that Iowa is open for business.
We signaled there will be certainty in the tax code and that taxes will not rise under our watch. And, this chamber has been successful in creating a Tax Relief Fund. It is designed to capture surplus one-time dollars and deliver it back to the taxpayer, where they belong. The new fund ensures taxpayers will have a seat at the table for years to come.
We conducted a thorough and thoughtful review of state rules and regulations. We identified red tape that is a burden to doing business and proposed and passed legislation addressing these issues. This is an area where we will focus even more next session.
This chamber has been successful in reining in government spending. State Government no longer spends more than it takes in. As it stands today, the Fiscal Year 2012 budget will spend approximately 95% of total available revenue. While still too much, this is a responsible and sustainable level of spending. Instead of spending $1.18 for each on-going dollar, we now will spend less than .97 cents for each on going dollar.
Controlling spending is not only important for the health of Iowa’s economy, but it is also an important piece in providing certainty to Iowa employers. When state government has its fiscal house in order, employers have the confidence to make long-term planning decisions to invest in Iowa and expand their workforce. Because of our actions, employers no longer need to worry about tax increases and other budget gimmicks that threaten job creation.
We have reduced the size of the state bureaucracy. Iowans are better served and get the most out of their hard earned tax dollars when government is lean and efficient. We will continue to find opportunities to ensure essential services like public safety, education and disaster recovery are delivered efficiently without additional layers of bureaucracy.
This body also acted in a bipartisan manner on a host of other issues important to Iowans. The House approved measures to give Iowans the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage, expand renewable and alternative energy sources like nuclear power, cut income taxes, and provide homeowners and business owners with real and meaningful property tax relief.
Clearly, I am disappointed we were unsuccessful in enacting property tax reform measures.
While this body was successful in enacting the largest property tax cut in the history of Iowa – by once again fully funding the K-12 foundation formula and committing to 100% funding on all property tax credits in FY13 – it is not enough. We continue to have some of the highest commercial property taxes in the nation. We will be back here to address this again next year. Iowans have earned meaningful and sustainable property tax relief.
The House passed legislation to provide schools with flexibility to better educate our children and grandchildren, to give Iowans a voice in making their healthcare decisions and to protect life. Regrettably, these issues and many others did not receive a fair hearing in the Iowa Senate. Regardless, we will reconvene next year to work on these issues and others important to Iowans.
None of us expected to be here on June 30th. But sometimes being patient and doing things differently is what it takes to keep your promises. General George Patton once said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Back in January I asked the 60 members of the House Republican caucus to get the state budget back in order and to get government out of the of way of our employers.
We have not only succeeded in that plan but you have impressed Iowans with your drive, determination and ingenuity. Thank you.