House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) delivered opening remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today. The following are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, family and friends:
First I want to start by welcoming Representative Royd Chambers back to the House. Thank you for your service, Royd, we’re very happy to have you home.
Obviously we have a difficult year ahead of us. But rather than look at this as a problem I hope this body will choose to see opportunity. Opportunity for a stronger Iowa, opportunity to create an efficient and open state government. An opportunity to give the state back to the people.
Last year we heard a lot of blame being passed out. House Republicans don’t think this is helpful. Wasn’t it President Truman who said, “the buck stops here?” Instead of blaming our state’s troubles on someone else, House Republicans have taken action and are ready to take action again this year.
Make no mistake though, just like I said last year … if blame is continued to be misplaced, as Republicans believe it has in the past, I will continue to talk about the pork of the last three years – the 2,600 new state employees – the 17+% spending increases. Mr. Speaker, Republicans prefer to move on; I hope Democrats feel the same.
Last year in my opening day speech I called for increased truth and transparency in state government, vowed to stand up against tax increases, and pointed out the importance of reducing the cost of government. As we worked through the year, Republicans crafted legislation to do just that. While most of it was not supported at the time, these ideas are now being revered as a good plan.
Today, those three goals have not changed. House Republicans will continue our efforts in those areas and add a few more to the list.
During the interim we went back to our home districts, met with our constituents and developed several bold solutions for the state of Iowa. The only party to put forth an agenda, we focused on empowering families, reducing budgets, and strengthening education and healthcare, just to name a few. We will put our plan into action with legislation that will hopefully be given a better reception than our efforts last year.
We will also focus on creating an environment which is welcoming to employers and encourages them to invest in our workforce, passing an affordable and responsible budget and standing up to the creeping federal intrusion into the lives of Iowans.
When we convened last year, 80,000 Iowans were out of work. When we adjourned that number had jumped to over 100,000. Now it is somewhere around 115,000 Iowans out of work. House Republicans will offer concrete and realistic ideas to put Iowans back to work.
We’ve repeatedly been saying we must reduce spending and we must be fiscally conservative with Iowans’ tax dollars. While bloated budgets, increased spending and growing debt is now the norm—let me be very clear about where we stand—House Republicans will not support any budget that spends more money than it takes in. Balancing the budget is not good enough if it’s on the backs of the property taxpayer.
The taxpayer deserves a seat at the table and House Republicans will make sure that happens.
Republicans believe state government disregarded Iowans’ concerns last year. Pushing bills through at all hours of the night with little debate, removing citizens from the very building they pay for, budgets created behind closed doors, and we failed to permit them to have the final say on how marriage should be defined in Iowa.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”
Mr. Speaker, it’s time to listen to the will of the people. House Republicans believe it’s time to return state government back to the hands of Iowans, allowing their voices to be heard…they deserve a seat at the table that they pay for.
Mr. Speaker, House Republicans stand ready to move Iowa forward. Mr. Speaker House Republicans are ready to go to work. Thank you.