Majority Leader Upmeyer’s Closing Remarks

(DES MOINES)—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,

We started this session with a difficult budget situation on our hands.  Our growing obligations exceeded the amount of revenue coming in.

To some, this was yet another opportunity to return to the days of spending more than the state takes in.  It is far too easy to build the ending balance into the ongoing expenses.

Well… easy until it isn’t.  Easy until revenue drops and there isn’t anywhere to go but to cuts and broken promises.

The state has been down that path many times before.  Instead, this chamber chose a wiser path.  As we have for the previous four sessions, we have aligned ongoing expenses with ongoing revenue.

Not spending more than you take-in is something that has always made sense to Iowans.  They should be glad to know their legislators are doing that too.  Who knows, maybe someday the federal government might even pick up on the idea!

That might seem like a dream, but what isn’t a dream in the state of Iowa is the fact that Republicans and Democrats can come together and find common ground.  You might read about our differences in the paper, but if you take the time to watch the actions in this building you will see something different.

You will see bipartisan work, bipartisan friendship, and in the end, bipartisan results.

It is that kind of bipartisan work that is going to be needed to address one of our biggest budget challenges, the unsustainable growth of Medicaid.  In my opening speech I highlighted that over the last ten years the general fund has grown at an annual rate of 4.1 percent while Medicaid has grown at 11.7 percent. This year isn’t any better. We are spending $151 million additional dollars on Medicaid with this year’s budgets.

Medicaid is on a collision course with other priorities like education, workforce training, and a competitive tax climate.

Thankfully, this year we have taken steps to begin changing course. The Medicaid asset verification system will help ensure benefits are going to those intended. The new managed care system will help us deliver services more efficiently.

However, more reforms are needed. We can do a better job of reviewing eligibility of applicants to reduce fraud. We should review and revise our waivers to focus our efforts. Most importantly, we must push for meaningful reforms and flexibility from our federal government.

Ladies and gentlemen of the House, thank you for your hard work this session.

Thank you, Minority Leader Smith, the House Democrat caucus and your staff for coming to the table to work towards solutions.

Thank you Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and your team for your enthusiastic efforts to elevate our state.

To the hardworking custodial and facilities staff, thank you for your preservation of this beautiful building.

If you are like me, you are happy to be concluding this session. Thank you to the Chief Clerk’s office and LSA for making that possible.

Brad, Jeff, Lew, Jason, Amanda, Carrie, Colin, Kristi, Brittany, Dane, Terri, Louis, Josie, Tony and Angie, you are hands down the best around. Thank you!

To my caucus, we stand together and we can see the results. Thank you for the opportunity to serve with you as we work for a better and more prosperous Iowa.

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

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your steadfast leadership and commitment to the honor of this chamber.