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January 3rd, 2011

House Republicans Roll Out First Bill

Today House Republicans unveiled their plan for budget savings, the Taxpayers First Act.

“House Republicans campaigned on giving Iowans a seat at the table. This bill does just that,” said House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Garner).

The Taxpayers First Act will create a Taxpayer Relief Fund which will capture any budget surplus and direct it back to the taxpayer.

“For the past four years, more government spending always came first. However, any surplus is not just more money for the government to spend. It belongs to the taxpayers and should be returned to the taxpayers first,” said House Appropriations Chair Scott Raecker (R-Urbandale).

In 2009, House Republicans launched a budget savings website where Iowans could give input on savings ideas. Republicans turned those ideas into over $600 million worth of amendments to help streamline state government. While those ideas were rejected at the time, Republicans continued meeting with Iowans to craft savings ideas which will be enacted for the Fiscal Year 2011 2012 and 2013 budgets. Below is a highlight of the bill:

• Create a Tax Relief Fund to capture any remaining general fund surplus

• Charge all state employees a minimum $50 monthly fee for health insurance. Charge legislators and legislative staff a health insurance premium

• Prohibit new vehicle purchases for general use, mandate Administration and Regulation budget subcommittee to create a new system for outsourcing the fleet and leasing vehicles, eliminate all add-ons

• Reduce office supplies, service contracts, equipment purchases by 50 percent of unencumbered appropriation

• Combine all state information technology systems (exempt Homeland Security)

• Direct the Department of Administrative Services to develop a request for proposal (RFP) to sell or lease the Iowa Communications Network

• Reduce funding for library acquisitions at Regents universities by 50 percent of unencumbered appropriation

• Reduce the Department of Natural Resources land acquisition for FY 2011 by 100 percent of unencumbered appropriation

• Freeze out-of-state travel funded from the general fund (allow a waiver process)

• End all state benefits to adult illegal immigrants

• Enforce residency requirements for all human services programs

• Direct the Education Appropriations budget subcommittee to combine the administrative functions at the Regents universities to find efficiencies

• Eliminate voluntary preschool, direct the Education committee to create a new voucher program

• Eliminate Power Fund, after current liabilities are funded

• Eliminate Office of Energy Independence, Ag & DNR budget sub decides responsibilities

• Eliminate core curriculum, Education Committee sets new standards as of July 1, 2011

• Cancel all Regents university sabbaticals for 18 months

• Eliminate Just Eliminate Lies, Quitline Iowa and other smoking cessation efforts

• Eliminate the state family planning waiver

• Eliminate empty shelter care beds, Health and Human Services budget subcommittee recommends new reimbursement

• Eliminate the Rebuild Iowa Office, shift responsibility to Homeland Security

• Cut marketing efforts that are funded by the general fund by 50 percent of unencumbered appropriation, Appropriations Committee creates a master marketing contract

• Eliminate $8.5 million for rail project, return funds to the original source

• Eliminate the $30 million for sustainable communities and heated sidewalks

• Cut the Area Education Associations (AEAs) by $10 million, have them use reserves or make cuts to fund the difference

• Eliminate the Grow Iowa Values Fund beginning July 1, 2011, freeze remaining unencumbered appropriations for FY 2011

• Eliminate the “Save our small business” fund and revert unencumbered funds

• Repeal current mental health statute, mandate new system that includes $125 million in dollar-for-dollar property tax relief by July 1, 2013

• Eliminate the Generation Iowa Commission

• Withdraw Iowa from the NAFTA superhighway coalition

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimates these savings to be roughly $500 million over three years.

“This past November, Iowa voters sent a clear statement that they were tired of business as usual,” said Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha). “Voters said they no longer want a heavy-handed government that spends too much and borrows even more. House Republicans have come up with a plan that puts taxpayers first.”

Republicans reached out to House Democrats and asked for their input on savings ideas. The bill will be House Study Bill 1 and will be the first bill passed off the floor of the Iowa House.

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