Today the Eighty-Third General Assembly came to a close. Below are the closing remarks that I delivered to the Iowa House of Representatives.
Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentleman of the House,
As we close another General Assembly, I want to begin by thanking the members of the Republican caucus. Thank you for your service, for your thoughtfulness in lawmaking and for your trust and friendship. It’s an honor to serve as your leader. Thanks to this year’s leadership team: Rod Roberts, Jeff Kaufmann, Steve Lukan, Matt Windschitl, Dave Deyoe, Erik Helland and Renee Schulte. Your efforts leading our caucus, on behalf of Iowans, are very much appreciated. A special thank you to the Republican Whip, Linda Upmeyer. You’re always willing to take on new challenges and your excellent leadership and commitment to House Republicans and the State of Iowa are much appreciated.
There are numerous staff members who make this building operate. Thank you for all for your hard work. Specifically, I want to thank the House Republican staff: Noreen, Jeff, Josie, Lew, Lon, Brad, Ann, Matt, Tony, Kristi and Jason. I continue to be impressed at how hard you work to keep us informed and focused. You are the best caucus staff in the building. Thanks to our page, Daxton Oberreuter– you helped our office run smoothly, we appreciated your work this year and wish you luck next year at UNI.
Representatives May, Rants, Roberts, Sorenson, Struyk, and Tymeson, the House Republican caucus is better for your service. Thank you to all House retirees. The state of Iowa is a better place because of your service and we all wish you the best of luck.
Thank you also to Speaker Murphy and Leader McCarthy. You committed to include Republicans in the process and in the ways you could, you followed through on your promise. I appreciated that. You heard us out on our proposal to reorganize government. While Republicans think the final bill did not go far enough to find savings, we believe Iowans were better served because both parties were included in the process and worked together towards a common goal. In the end, we were left with a bill that was a step in the right direction.
At the start of the session I said that House Republicans would focus on three things. 1– Creating an environment which welcomes employers and encourages them to invest in our workforce. 2– Passing an affordable and responsible budget and 3– Standing up to the creeping federal intrusion into the lives of Iowans.
Unfortunately, 111,000 Iowans remain out of work and instead of working with employers, this body saddled them with more regulation and targeted them with property tax increases. Instead, we spent time on cowl lamps and lead wheel weights. This body even took the time to debate and spend money on heated sidewalks.
In this chamber, Republicans offered over $290 million in savings this session. Not a single one of those ideas were adopted. I understand Democrats looked at our list of savings and questioned the amount. Fair enough. But what if you had adopted just 10 percent of those savings? $29 million. How many of Iowa’s 2,500 teachers being laid off would be saved from that fate if we would have prioritized teachers over state owned cars?
The Legislature convened with a $1.1 billion hole in the state budget. We are adjourning with a $1 billion hole. Much to the dismay of House Republicans, it is a disappointing and frustrating result of the session. Balancing the budget is not good enough if it is on the backs of the property taxpayer and that’s what this body did.
To be clear, we are adjourning with a $6.2 billion budget. You’ve decided to spend $5.3 billion in ongoing revenue, $700 million in one time money and nearly $200 million in transfers to the property taxpayer. Over a three year period, $532 million of general fund spending has been shifted to Iowa property tax payers.
The creeping federal intrusion is about to become even more rampant. While the federal government’s take over of health care is advancing, Republican efforts in this chamber to stand up for our 10th Amendment rights and to fight for Iowans’ health care freedom were defeated.
If you haven’t noticed, a movement was created over the last 15 months. Massive federal intervention in the form of bailouts and takeovers have many Iowans feeling frustrated…powerless…helpless. Then they watched this body ignore them on things like marriage, tax policy and government spending. Frustration and exasperation with their government has made them pay attention. It is time to give Iowan’s their state back.
Instead of turning our backs on Iowans, instead of assuming we know what is best for the people of this state, we must stop and listen. As true representatives, we must find more issues where Republicans and Democrats can come together and get to the business of solving problems. Iowans deserve a government that is transparent, responsive and one that operates on the idea of restraint. Government involvement is not the answer to every question.
In summary, there are a few things to be pleased with – we strengthened second amendment rights and we protected Iowans’ right to deduct their federal income taxes. However, House Republicans believe Gov. Culver and this Legislature spent too much, saved too little and raised property taxes. In fact, I believe the number one thing this year will be remembered for is the massive property tax increase passed onto Iowans.
Let us learn from the past two years. Let us stop and go home. Let us go home and listen. The future of our state depends on us doing better.
Rep. Kraig Paulsen
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