As we near the end of the 2013 session, we continue to work through the various budget areas, working on behalf of the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa to ensure the budget principles I have previously outlined are used to get the state’s fiscal house in order. As a reminder:
- Republican budgets do not spend more money than the state takes in;
- Republican budgets do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;
- Republican budgets do not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget;
- Republican budgets will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
I want to take a moment to thank all of the high school pages, particularly the Speaker’s page, who worked in the House this year. Every year when legislators descend upon the Capitol and go to work on behalf of Iowans, they are joined by some of Iowa’s brightest and most talented high school students. These students spend the session (or half session) as Legislative pages – serving in the House, Senate and Legislative Services Agency.
As the Speaker of the House, I have an office page that assists me and my staff. His primary responsibility is running the soundboard in the chamber. I’ve asked him to share his perspective on being a page with you.
Read about Keith’s experience here…
We had another successful week in the House. Several more budget bills moved through the process and were sent to bipartisan conference committees where they will hopefully find resolution quickly.
As the budgets have been moving through the House and Senate, it has become clear that Democrats have already begun to surpass their own budget targets.
How much have the Dems spent?… Click here
I believe we had a productive week of work in the House. We saw movement on several pieces of the budget, completed a public hearing on the Healthy Iowa Plan, saw progress on education reform and most importantly, moved meaningful property tax reform.
If no action is taken on property tax relief, the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa are staring down the barrel of a $2.6 billion property tax increase over the next 10 years, with the majority of that increase resulting in increases to homeowners.
The House proposal does not shift the tax burden to various classes of property, but instead ensures that relief and reform is permanent, predictable, significant, and affects all classes of property.
Details of the bill here…
This week, in an effort to come to resolution on the education reform plan which is currently before a House and Senate Conference Committee, House Republicans made a reasonable offer for Iowa students. The plan saves taxpayer money, allows schools to plan ahead for the long term, and implements policy changes focused on achievement-driven reforms.
The new House proposal seeks to find compromise with the Senate on the funding side of things, while maintaining the bill as passed by the House which accomplishes education reform in a meaningful and thoughtful way.
Click to see the details…
We saw some positive movement this week as the Senate sent the House education reform bill (HF 215) back to our chamber. It now heads to conference committee where members will work through the differences. I am confident that they will come to resolution.
We are closing in on four weeks left in the scheduled 2013 legislative session. When the eighty-fifth General Assembly began, House Republicans committed to remaining focused on ways to make Iowa strong. We laid out a plan to create certainty with balanced budgets, promote job creation through tax relief and reform, and build strong schools and communities. Below is the current status update on pieces of our plan.
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You may have heard that the Senate Democrats took up the issue of Medicaid expansion this week. I thought now is a good time to address the myth that expanding Medicaid doesn’t cost Iowa taxpayers any money because the federal government pays 100% of the expansion. This is a myth.
Expanding Medicaid the way Democrats have proposed has two fundamental problems:
- It costs more every year for the same services.
- It doesn’t make Iowans healthier.
Currently Iowa has 400,000 people enrolled in Medicaid. The FY 14 estimate is that this will cost $ 1.2 billion in state dollars which is $88.5 million more than last year. This cost grows every year because the number of Iowans who qualify grows, if expansion is approved or not. Since 2000, Medicaid enrollment has gone up 88% and Medicaid expenditures are up 226%. With or without Obamacare, the cost of Medicaid is going up.
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Two years ago, Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall. Today, we have an ending balance of $688 million and our budget reserves are full. This is a fundamental change in legislative decision making, driven by Iowans. This is a significant departure from how government operated in the past where every dollar was spent, even some we didn’t have.
House Republicans have instilled a fundamental culture change and we will not retreat now. As we began moving budget bills through the House this week, we have remained committed to the principles used to get our fiscal house in order:
- We will not spend more money than the state takes in;
- We will not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;
- We will not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget;
- We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
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On Wednesday, the House passed House File 478, a bill that leaves more money in Iowans’ pocketbooks and reduces Iowans’ income taxes.
House File 478
- Gives Iowans a choice when paying their income taxes, either the current system or a 4.5 percent flat tax with zero deductions or credits. No one will pay higher income taxes under this plan.
- Makes Iowa’s tax system simpler, flatter, and fairer.
- Raises the filing threshold so that the first $6,235 (or $12,450 for married couple) would not be taxed.
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This week was the first legislative funnel. This is a self-imposed deadline that the legislature sets to help narrow bills – all non-money bills must clear a House committee by Friday in order to remain alive for the rest of the year. Those bills that do not survive the funnel are eligible to be debated again next year.
An updated list of bills that remain eligible will be available later today.
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This week, the House and Senate both released their budget targets for the year. This is a general number indicating how much each party is willing to spend along with a number for each specific budgeting area. These numbers give direction to the budget subcommittees on how much money they have to begin allocating to specific programs.
For Fiscal Year 2014, the House Republicans have proposed a budget that is both balanced and sustainable. It meets the four principles established by House Republicans that I have been discussing over the past few weeks. Our budget:
- Spends less than the state collects;
- Prevents the use of one-time money to fund on-going needs;
- Balances the budget by without intentionally underfunding entitlement programs;
- Returns unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.
The overall amount of revenue that is available to be spent in Fiscal Year 2014 is $7.1822 billion. This amount includes the $688.1 million in the ending balance that is an overpayment by Iowa taxpayers. The amount of ongoing revenue that is available is $6.5377 billion. The Fiscal Year 2014 proposal by House Republicans spends $6.4139 billion. This is a 3 percent increase over last year’s spending level and it protects priority services in the areas of education, health and human services and public safety.
Also of note is that this budget proposal includes the funding necessary to maintain our commitment to education; including the funding necessary to allow the Regents universities to freeze tuition, $10 million to the community colleges, and a two percent increase in supplemental state aid for our local schools.
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