Thank you Mr. President.
Colleagues, friends and all Iowans:
What a session!
This was truly one for the history books: 6 different months, 25 weeks, 172 calendar days and 91 total days of session.
As we finally close the books on this session, I think history will ultimately view this session as the real beginning of a transformation progression for Iowa.
When the voters spoke last fall, they said they wanted a smaller, more efficient government that taxes less, spends less, promotes an environment where private sector job creation flourishes and encourages freedom, liberty and opportunity.
Republicans have listened to the wishes of the voters and after years of overspending, ever higher taxes and rampant job losses – the tide is beginning to change and a new course is being charted.
Yet, make no mistake – our work does not end today. It is only just beginning and we have a lot of work ahead of us.
When we started this session on that cold January day, Senate Republicans said we wanted to give the citizens back their government and make it more responsive, open and transparent. We said we wanted to spend our time this session focusing on the message the Iowa voters delivered last fall: to concentrate on private sector job creation, remove onerous barriers to economic growth, reduce spending and cut our taxes.
From day one, our mission has been to begin to restore the public trust in government and to move forward on a new and more hopeful agenda.
While there is still much yet to be accomplished when it comes to opening Iowa up for more good paying jobs, we took a major step forward this session by beginning to address the onerous rules and regulations that are holding back job creators and sending jobs across our borders.
Our eleven city “Re-Open Iowa for Business” Rules and Regulations tour generated hundreds of comments, was attended by over 1000 people and truly began to push the conversation toward removing – instead of building up the barriers that are hindering the success of our people.
In the coming weeks, Senate Republicans will be releasing our report on the tour, which will include specific policy and procedure changes that must be implemented to ensure Iowa is friendlier to those who wish to invest in our communities and our workforce.
When it comes to encouraging private sector job creation and the over 100,000 Iowans that are still unacceptably out of work, Senate Republicans look forward to continuing to be a leader on all issues related to job creation.
On jobs, we made progress but there is more that needs to be done.
Though it took the full six months to accomplish, we finally have a budget that funds our core essential services without employing the kinds of reckless budgeting gimmicks that have put our state in financial peril in recent years.
While nobody likes everything about this new budget, it is more sustainable, predictable and spends less than we take in.
As we look to the future, we will continue to work hard to find savings, eliminate waste and offer systemic reforms that will result in a leaner and more efficient delivery of services for the people that elected us to serve as their voice and their vote.
On the budget, we made substantive progress but there is plenty more that can be done.
A leaner budget also goes hand in hand with a more reasonable and responsible tax system.
In order to make our state more competitive for jobs, we must have lower property taxes. Unfortunately, the property taxpayers of Iowa will not get the comprehensive tax reform that they deserve this session.
However, Senate Republicans remain emboldened to do what is right for all classes of property taxpayers.
Whether it is property or income taxes, there is still plenty of work yet to be done to make Iowa more competitive for all of those who wish to call our great state home.
When it comes to our tax code in the future, we have no choice but to make serious reforms.
In addition to the budget, job creation and taxes, there are still challenges that must be addressed in other areas in the coming year.
We must get past the partisan obstructionism and finally address legislation that bans late-term abortions so communities like Council Bluffs can avoid becoming the “Late-Term Abortion Mecca of the Midwest.” In addition, it is wrong for Senate Democrats to continue to obstruct a vote of the people on the basic definition of marriage, defying the unmistakable message delivered by the voters last election.
Our work on other important endeavors and reforms in education, health care, energy, agriculture policy and with our natural resources will be part of the conversation in the near future and we can and must always do more to make our government more open and transparent.
We must also challenge ourselves to guarantee sufficient public safety and ensure that we have roads and infrastructure that are safe, reliable and capable of supporting the Iowa economy of the future.
We must work to help those along our western border as they battle the flooding created by the Mighty Missouri. They, like other flooding victims, are a wonderful example of the resiliency and profound sense of community that exists amongst the people of Iowa.
Clearly, Mr. President, can there be any doubt that we have plenty of work ahead of us?
Before I conclude, I want to thank my fellow members of the Senate Republican Caucus for their hard work. I want to thank all of our caucus staff members, the staff of the LSA and Secretary of the Senate’s office and our pages and door keepers for their excellent work.
It takes a lot of dedicated people to keep us all on track.
Yet, it also takes real leadership to really put Iowa back on a track of growth and prosperity. I believe we have started down the right path but we can, should and will do more.
Iowans did not elect us to continue the status quo. They elected us to make difficult decisions and to take real steps forward. The future generations of Iowa cannot afford for us to sit idly by while our neighbors and competitors only continue to make the progress we are missing.
We, as elected officials, have been granted an incredible ability to set policy and represent the people of this state. As individuals, we are here to serve the constituents in our districts, but together we must work for the betterment of all.
Every Iowan is unique and special but we all are looking for similar things: a better life and good paying jobs, world class schools and safe communities for their children and a government that lives within its means, promotes liberty and fosters opportunity.
Iowans are blessed with common sense, are hardworking, compassionate, frugal and optimistic about the future. They care about their communities, their schools and their neighbors around them. Our people are smart, they love this state and they want what is best for their families. This exceptional sense of independence, community and self-sufficiency is our bedrock and our lifeblood.
As we look toward the future, let us again unleash the unbridled entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity of the private sector. This state is dotted with manufacturers and small businesses who have served as the foundation of our communities. We must embrace the understanding that the new Iowa economy will be about the things that we can touch, feel, need and use. Never should we allow our valuable agricultural commodities to leave this state to have value added elsewhere.
We could be on the verge of a new economic explosion if we lead with the right vision, take the right approach and move away from the notion that government picking winners and losers is the answer to growing our economy.
We must stay focused on job creation and send a clear message that Iowa is the destination for all those who wish to find success and pursue their dreams.
As legislators, we must never stop trying to renew the boundless potential embodied in all 99 counties.
May God bless you all, our constituents back home and may you always be proud to be an Iowan.
Thank you very much.
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