House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer Delivers Closing Remarks

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) delivered closing remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today. The following are her remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

At the beginning of this, the 85th General Assembly, I spoke on the floor about my concern that Iowans were losing faith in government. This arises from the gridlock that has consumed Washington D.C. Each night you can turn on the television and watch pundits and politicians arguing about blame when we really need to be coming together to talk about solutions.

It’s that kind of culture in the federal government that has Iowans doubting that elected officials can come together and tackle issues head on. Our challenge was to show Iowans that we could do better.

So how did we do that?

We did it by taking on an issue like property tax growth that has been unresolved for years. We have long known that the growth in property taxes was unsustainable for homeowners and that it was discouraging job growth. It was the members of this General Assembly who finally stepped up… and in the process passed the largest tax cut in state history!

We have shown Iowans that they can have faith in state government when we have done more than talk about improving our children’s education system. Instead of lip service when it comes to education, we stepped up and truly innovated. The teacher-leadership model broke the mold of how we look to improve the achievement of our students. This is the kind of landmark legislation that will help us compete with an increasingly global challenge.

After a couple of years of strong fiscal discipline, you could not blame Iowans for thinking we would slip back into the bad budgeting practices of the past. Rather than doing that, we have shown Iowans that we can keep our commitment to common sense budgeting principles. As a result, we are spending less than we take in and we are sending money back to the taxpayers!

A few short years ago the state racked up unprecedented debt. Having seen so much government borrowing around the country, Iowans may have resigned themselves to continuing down that path going forward.

While the federal government and states like Illinois burden future generations with their borrowing, we have wisely chosen to go a different direction. Over the last two sessions we have paid off over $200 million in debt early and ensured a stronger financial future for our Iowa.

Doing the easy thing and the right thing are rarely the same thing. There is no better example of that than what Iowans sent us here to do. They sent us here to come together, in a bipartisan manner, and get work done. While I am proud that we have done this, we have also been reminded this session of how fragile a thing it can be. At times this year there have been efforts to campaign through our committees. When that happens, it becomes hard to distinguish our process from the one in Washington, D.C.

Thankfully, in recent days I believe we have risen above the fray and renewed our focus. I am so honored to stand before you today as we close the 85th General Assembly because I believe that over the course of the past two years we have demonstrated the best in public service. You have displayed the leadership our nation’s capitol lacks and needs to follow.

Ladies and gentlemen of the House, thank you for rising to the occasion. It is an honor to serve with you.

Thank you Minority Leader Smith, the House Democrat caucus and your staff for working with us and your dedication.

Thank you Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and your team for your tireless efforts.

Thank you to everyone who keeps this building beautiful and running smoothly.

I want to thank the Chief Clerk’s office and everyone in LSA. We would never shut this place down if you were not ready and willing to help at a moments notice.

Thank you to our staff. Jeff, Brad, Jason, Amanda, Carrie, Colin, Kristi, Lew, Brittany, Dane, Terri, Louis, Josie, Tony and Angie, you guys rock!

To the leadership team: Steve, Chris, Matt, Jeff, Joel, Walt, Lee and Jarad, thank you for your support and counsel.

To my caucus, I am honored to serve with you and humbled at the opportunity you have given me. I am excited about what the future holds for this caucus, thank you.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your friendship and your leadership.