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January 18 Update
The 2013 Session of the 85th General Assembly is underway. I’m honored to be a part of the state legislative process, and I find it to be a humbling responsibility. Suddenly my opinions are not just something private anymore, and the reality of making decisions that affect the lives of all Iowans demands that we look at all legislation from all points of view. Thank you to all who made my campaign successful; I hope to be able to earn your continued support on a daily basis.
The housekeeping functions of the first week are complete. The governor has given his Condition of the State speech, and Chief Justice Cady has told us about the State of the Judiciary. Committee assignments are a critical part of the process. My two primary committee assignments are Appropriations and Natural Resources & Environment. Both are major parts of state government. I’m also on the Administration & Rules Committee, as well as the ranking member on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee. That’s appropriate for me because my father is a WW2 veteran (Battle of the Bulge), my brother is a Vietnam era vet, and my son is a two time Afghan vet (and still active Army). I am disappointed to not having been named to the Transportation committee with the important road projects pending in District 40.
The Governor has outlined his three-point plan to help Iowa grow stronger:
- Provide property tax relief
- Make Iowa schools the best in the nation
- Improve Iowan’s quality of life
It’s important to know the road we traveled down in order to know where we’re going, and Governor Branstad returned fiscal sanity to Iowa’s budgeting practices. Our previous governor made across-the-board cuts to the state’s budget and bit off more than Democrats could chew by bonding beyond our state’s means. Times have changed and Governor Branstad, through sound fiscal leadership, has filled Iowa’s coffers and continues to create a state budget that spends less than it takes in and protects our rainy day funds. Like Iowa families, Iowa government has tightened its belt and will continue to live within our means. That sort of responsible leadership is good for all Iowans.
These sound budgeting practices will enable us to focus on things like restoring our education system to top-notch status. We know that the education system needs to be reformed and student achievement levels need to be raised. It’s time to move Iowa’s education system forward and Senate Republicans are committed to working through that process to give our most important investment, our students, the leg-up they need to compete in the global economy. Restructuring the education system will help produce world class students and world class employees for Iowa jobs with Iowa employers.
While the condition of the state is growing stronger, Iowa is in a great position to capture economic success. That means lowering the property tax burden across the board. We have some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Senate Republicans know that Iowans have been feeling the property tax pinch for too long. We know we must remain focused on providing real tax relief that empowers hard working Iowans. Real property tax relief will embolden businesses and provide job creation. The ripple effect will be powerful.
The next step is putting these plans in action. Senate Republicans will continue to work with our fellow legislators to diligently examine any and all legislation and make sure that it helps our economy grow, creates jobs, and effectively educate our children. We’ve spent beyond our means and seen the disappointing repercussions. Now, we’ve tightened our belts and been successful. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The best is yet to come.
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