Smarter, Smaller Government
Governor Terry E. Branstad gave his final Condition of the State Address on Tuesday. His theme was “Smarter, Smaller Government.” Sound familiar? That phrase has been the foundation of my campaign since the beginning! I gladly share the phrase with the Governor and hope that the phrase is something all House and Senate members can adopt this session.
This year I will head the Education Committee as its Chair. I am also on Appropriations, Environmental Protections, and Education Budget Committees.
I am looking forward to a great session!
Resolving the FY17 Budget
Due to a sluggish agricultural economy faced with commodity prices below the cost of production, which is having a ripple effect in other industries, Iowa’s revenue growth is slowing.
When the Legislature adjourned last year, the budget was balanced. However an updated revenue projection has created a manageable budget shortfall of around $117 million. This will require reductions to the current state budget.
House Republicans believe that a thoughtful approach to this shortfall is necessary. That means:
- Keeping our promise to K-12 education: Since taking the majority in 2011, House Republicans have made education a priority by providing schools with funding that they can depend on. House Republicans are working to hold K-12 education harmless from any budget reductions.
- No across-the-board cut: Schools, public safety, and human services were decimated as a result of Chet Culver’s 10% across-the-board cut in 2009. We don’t need a repeat of this. House Republicans are working to make targeted, thoughtful reductions with minimal impact on services.
- Finding efficiencies and duplication: House Republicans will work to identify programs that are no longer necessary or serve the same purpose other programs in different departments.
At a time when the state is experiencing revenue growth, now isn’t the time to tap the Economic Emergency or Cash Reserve funds to balance the budget. State revenue continues to grow, but it’s at a slower pace than originally projected.
House Republicans are committed to funding the priorities of Iowans in a thoughtful and responsible way.
House Republicans will continue to abide by our budget principles which have done the state well:
- We will spend less than the state collects
- We will not use one-time funds to pay for ongoing needs
- We will not intentionally underfund state programs to balance the budget
- We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers
Flexibility for Schools
House Republicans are committed to providing flexibility to locally elected school boards by loosening funding restrictions and allow more local decision making. Several school districts have thousands of dollars sitting in funds unused because they are limited to specific purposes.
Every school district in the state faces its own unique struggles. Schools in Hudson and Waterloo aren’t the same. We should loosen funding strings and allow schools to spend money in the way that fits their individual districts best.
Among the most far reaching efforts the Legislature can pursue is changing Iowa’s collective bargaining laws to allow superintendents and school boards more flexibility to deal with locally unique budget challenges as they arise.
An Environment for Growth
House Republicans are always looking for ways to leave more money in the pockets of Iowa’s hardworking taxpayers.
Even with tight revenues, House Republicans believe there’s never a bad time to review Iowa’s complex tax code. House Republicans will look for ways to make Iowa’s tax code simpler, fairer, and more competitive as the session gets underway.