Extended Session Concludes: Mom was Right
My mom has long told me – “If you don’t have time to do things right, when will you have time to do them over?” Mom also tells us that “done” is when something comes out of the oven – and “finished” is when a task is completed.
With that in mind – the extended legislative session has concluded, and while it has taken an extra-ordinary amount of time to finish our tasks – we have taken the time to do things right. Notable accomplishments include what I believe to be an historic state budget.We have delivered Iowans a budget that meets priority needs, does not spend more than we take in – and for the first time in years the state budget aligns on-going revenue with expenses. The budget does not rely on gimmicks such as one-time money for on-going expenses and for the first time since the Expenditure Limitation was put in place – we will spend less than the allowed 99% of projected revenue.
The budget spends almost $250 million less than the current year – saving the taxpayer over $1 billion in the next four years. The taxpayer was also at the table with the adoption of the Taxpayer Trust Fund which will capture surplus revenue above expenses and return it to the citizens of Iowa.
Our school-age youth – and the taxpayer – will also benefit with the infusion of over $215 million new funds to the K-12 education system. This money is absorbed by the previous underfunding of the K-12 system that resulted in property tax increases across the state. And for the next year, another $65 million has been committed to support our K-12 education system. In total – the largest two-year infusion of new money into K-12 education in our history.
And as requested by Governor Branstad, the legislature has delivered a two-year budget that is fiscally responsible and balanced through a five-year projection.
Significant progress was made to resolve the mental health service delivery system with a bi-partisan reform initiative started that will result in equitable and cost effective services delivered to Iowans in need. In addition, $31 million of new money was placed in the system to eliminate the current mental health wait lists and respond to projected growth needs.
And while significant discussion took place on property tax reform – it will be the next legislative session before a bill will advance to bring needed relief to Iowans.
It has taken longer than any Iowan would have imagined for the legislature to finish – however, all Iowans can be proud, and will benefit, from the fact that the legislature took the time to do things right – rather than have to do them over.