Speaker Kraig Paulsen Delivers Closing Remarks

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) delivered closing remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today. The following are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:

I’d like to start by quickly thanking you, the members of the eighty-fifth general assembly for your hard work and for closing the books on another session. It is truly an honor to serve as your speaker. Specifically, I’d like to thank the House Republicans – you have proved once again that we can govern while maintaining our principles.

To my wife, Cathy, and our children, thank you for your constant support and understanding.

I want to thank our great leadership team that I am honored to work with – Reps. Windschitl, Hagenow, Rogers, Smith and Fry – I appreciate your leadership and dedication to the Republican caucus. To Speaker Pro Tem Steve Olson, I have greatly appreciated your insights and our conversations. You will be missed next year.

To the Majority Leader, Linda Upmeyer, thank you for your unwavering leadership. Rarely is there a wall put up that you cannot find a way around or, as sometimes is required, to break through. I value your friendship and appreciate your tireless work.

To Leader Smith and the minority party, thank you for your efforts this year.

To our leadership staff: Louis, Terri, Josie, Angie, and Tony. And, in my opinion, the best caucus staff in the building – the House Republican Caucus staff: Jeff, Lew, Brad, Jason, Kristi, Carrie, Colin, Amanda, Dane and Brittany – you are not thanked enough for the work that you do and the service you provide. We are very appreciative.

Chief Clerk Boal, thank you to you and your staff, the work you all do to make this chamber operate efficiently. And LSA for all of your hard work, much of what you do is not seen but it does not go unnoticed.

And finally, a special thank you to Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and their team for their resolve and steadfast leadership.

When Iowans look back on the entire eighty-fifth general assembly, and specifically the House of Representatives, I think they will remember it for the work focused on those Iowans who play by the rules and simply want less government in their lives and in their pockets. This Legislature has opportunities to make family life more affordable, upward mobility more likely and employment easier to find.

We did this through targeted investments in education and job training. Iowa’s community colleges saw an increase in funding, nearly a 25 percent increase over the past four years. Families will find it a bit easier to afford the cost of college tuition as we have provided the funding necessary to freeze tuition at our regents institutions.

We focused on family-friendly tax changes, including the implementation of the taxpayer trust fund, a mechanism to return the overpayment of taxes back to the taxpayers. And after more than a decade of kicking the can down the road, we came together to pass historic property tax relief and reform that absolutely makes a difference for every Iowan.

We also fulfilled our commitment to provide strong budget leadership. It wasn’t that long ago when Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall, behaving much like they do in Washington, D.C. Iowans demanded change. In response, House Republicans outlined budgeting principles that have guided our decisions for the last four sessions. This included a serious commitment to a very basic and common sense practice – paying off the state’s debt. We should all be very proud that unlike Washington, D.C. we have stopped borrowing money and instead we are paying off our debts. A new course has been charted for future legislatures, one that puts hardworking Iowa taxpayers first, not the government.

In my opening day speech, I asked you to consider a few questions and let them guide you through this session. Are we offering Iowa families relief from the squeeze of federal, state and local taxes? Are we looking for ways to make it easier for them to send their kids to college? Are we removing barricades that stop them from improving their own financial health?

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the answer to those questions is yes.

Again, thank you for your efforts.