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On the first day of the 2014 Legislative session we listened to opening day remarks stressing the importance of strengthening Iowa’s economy and creating new career opportunities. These were two common themes being discussed prior to the start of the session. However, those themes were shelved early, never gaining any traction in the weeks leading up to adjournment. Failing to produce meaningful legislation to advance these priorities is disappointing.
Moving forward, we must address these important issues in order to create an environment of opportunity for all Iowans. If we want Iowa to continue to be successful and compete in growing jobs and the growing the economy, we need to take more serious steps at reforming our tax system. Whether we eliminate a tax, simplify and reduce taxes, or some combination of the two, we must never stop trying to improve our tax climate. Doing this will help businesses create careers for hard-working Iowans, and allow Iowans to keep more of their hard-earned money. I believe we can do better.
When we return to the legislature in January, we will likely face a structural budget deficit. Senate Republicans have repeatedly fought on behalf of the Iowa taxpayer throughout the two years of the 85th General Assembly. We know what is coming. We issued constant warnings that went unheard. The majority party turned a deaf ear to our concerns, and that is very telling. It sends a clear signal - a new direction is needed in the Iowa Senate. Senate Republicans are eager to lead, rein in spending and end this war on the Iowa taxpayer.
While several important topics were discussed this legislative session in the Iowa Senate, pension reform was not one of them. While there were some rumblings prior to the start of session pension reform could be discussed, it did not go further than the research phase. I look for this discussion to heat up when we return in January for the 2015 legislative session.
Legislators must understand the importance of keeping our promises to retiring employees. I do not think it is fair to pull the rug out from under anyone nearing retirement. However, as we have seen in several cities and states across the country, when states make unrealistic promises and let their pension systems get grossly underfunded, those promises were not kept.
Currently, when pension systems fail, the taxpayer is on the hook. It is important that we work toward solutions that protect the taxpayer, protect employee retirees, and ensure integrity and solvency through reform of Iowa’s pension systems. By working together we can reform our Iowa pension systems and ensure our promises to future retirees are kept.
Two words – Sine Die – are often heard around the Capitol this time of year. They signify the end of the legislative session. ‘Sine Die’ is Latin and means ‘without day.’ In today’s Iowa Legislature, it is defined as “without assigning a day for a future meeting”. After 110 days in the 2014 Legislative session, sine die came at 8:50 a.m. on Friday. The 85th General Assembly is finished with their work. And, of course, the 86th General Assembly will be elected in November.
It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve District 40 in the Iowa Senate. I wish to thank all of you who emailed, called and visited me at the Capitol during the legislative session. I urge you to keep in contact during the interim as your thoughts and concerns are very important to me. I also urge you to exercise your right and responsibility to voice your political views at the voting booth. This year’s primary election is scheduled on June 3rd, and the general election is November 4th. Please vote.
Senator Ken Rozenboom
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