Thank you Mr. Speaker.Â Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentleman of the House,
First I would like to thank my caucus.Â It is indeed a great honor to stand for you and represent you.Â We are 43 strong and we made a difference â€“ be proud of your efforts and successes. Next year we will stand with 44 members as we welcome our friend Rep. Royd Chambers back from serving our country in the Middle East.Â We look forward to serving with him in this chamber again. Thank you to my leadership team: Rod, Jodi, Jeff, and Steve for your input and efforts.Â And a special thank you to the Republican Whip, Linda Upmeyer for your inexhaustible energy and focus.
I would also like to thank each of you who take the time away from your families and your lives at home to come to Des Moines and serve the people of the great state of Iowa.Â Our task is often difficult and grueling, so I think each one of you deserves thanks for giving so much of your time and energy.
The staff of this building who work hard to keep bills moving, get amendments drafted, and make sure things are up and running each day. Thank you.Â Specifically, I would like to thank my staff.Â Thank you Jeff, Josie, Noreen, Lew, Lon, Brad, Ann, Kelly, Jason, Matt and Tony.Â We like to say, and it continues to be true, that we have the most informed staff in the building.
Mr. Speaker â€“ Mr. Majority Leader, I also want to thank you.Â Obviously we have some profound differences on policy, but that did not prevent us from working together when possible for the betterment of Iowans.Â You committed to me that House Republicans would have opportunities to engage and affect legislation and you followed through on that commitment.Â Â I thank you for that.
Most notably we began working this session effectively to respond to last yearâ€™s disaster through the newly formed Rebuild Iowa Committee â€“ while we can debate whether we did enough in the right areas -Â Iowa will be better because we worked together.
Republicans and Democrats worked together to write a disaster relief package after listening to the concerns of Iowans.Â Of that, we should all be proud.
Unfortunately, much of the cooperation ended there.
Leading is not coming in and pushing a button based on your party.Â Leading is listening to the will of the people and hearing the voices of the Iowans who put their faith in you.
Iâ€™m not convinced this House of Representatives listened throughout this session.
71 percent of Iowans opposed the massive and unprecedented borrowing proposal we passed in the last two days.Â Maybe that is why Iowans werenâ€™t allowed to see the massive spending plan until it was about to be debated.Â Even aside from the secrecy which surrounded the formulation of this scheme, the really frustrating part is that Republicans believe we could have accomplished the same things without â€“ WITHOUT â€“ borrowing a single dime if we simply used the infrastructure fund for infrastructure.
On tax day, thousands gathered right outside this building saying, enough is enough, cut back.Â Yet, you voted for the largest amount of spending in the history of our state.Â Once again, Iâ€™m not sure that this House listened.
A few weeks ago the Iowa Supreme Court handed down their ruling striking down traditional marriage in Iowa.Â Iowans again came to this chamber and pleaded with this body to take action.Â Iowans want to have a chance to be heard on this issue– to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as 1 man and 1 woman just as many promised we would do.Â House Republicans tried to make that happen but were circumvented by procedure.Â This is very regrettable.
Only 40 percent of Iowans supported the prevailing wage bill.Â Â They sent a deluge of messages voicing their hesitation, but we debated anyway. Later, an even more unpopular plan to take away Iowansâ€™ largest tax deduction was brought to us. As a sea of red shirts packed the balconies to stand up against the raiding of their wallets.Â Instead of listening, they were removed from the chamber.
In January, every leader in this chamber promised Iowans that the Legislature would review each program and line item in the state budget to find waste and inefficiencies.Â Well, House Republicans followed through.Â We went through hundreds of pages of budget documents from state agencies.Â And what did we find?Â Projects that could be postponed, cars that didnâ€™t need to be purchased, and money that could not be accounted for.Â We found $337 million in waste and inefficiencies and offered them as amendments.Â Virtually every one was rejected â€“ in fact less than 1% of these savings were accepted.
The result? Historic levels of spending in the state of Iowa.Â This is astounding considering all Iowans have heard about are the painful budget cuts and program eliminations.Â It is counter-intuitive to know that state revenues are going down and then, fully armed with that knowledge, pass a budget that not only exceeds available revenue but is the largest budget Iowans have ever seen.Â After all of this spending Iâ€™m left to wonder â€“ if more and more government spending revs up the economy, then why isnâ€™t ours humming along?
Republicans said over and over that we were using a three part test to weigh each bill.Â 1. Does it grow Iowaâ€™s economy?Â 2. Does it create jobs?Â 3. Does it encourage our employers to reinvest in our workforce?
Countless times this year, Republicans urged the majority party to use these same checks.Â Â To consider the choices everyday Iowans are making as they tighten their belts and reexamine their own household budgets to weather this economic storm.Â Â We asked how we were putting even one of 80,000 Iowans back to work.
Iâ€™m not convinced that this House was listening.
Mr. Speaker and ladies and gentlemen of the House, I will close with this thought:Â we have spent nearly all of our time this session doing one of two things:Â spending or borrowing.
As I think back over the last 100 days I think of several things:Â the most money spent in Iowaâ€™s history, a partial response to flooding, saddling our children with years of debt, and a failure to act on the issue of marriage.Â Â While I see this as disappointing, I also see an open door of opportunity to take the time to again listen to Iowans and return next year and do the peopleâ€™s work.
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The Iowa House is currently debating the bonding measureÂ and making my head spin!Â $750 million has turned into $650 million, and then other additional principle expenses, plus the interest costs put the cost for Iowans at over $1.4 billion (yes, with a “b”) (some put it at $1.2 billion).Â $70 million per year for the next 20 years.Listening to the floor debate, it sounds like the bill sponsors can’t really answer any questions very effectively, and are just throwing money at, what?Â As we discussed earlier, we just don’t need this money, these spending plans that aren’t really plans at all, just a lot of ideas to pick from right now.
Just reported that Republicans all signed and filed a letter of dissent for violating the Iowa State Constitution.Â From what I’ve heard listening to this, the Democrats have come up with some approach that perhaps keeps them technically in line with the letter of the Constitution, but not the spirit.
Another bill Iowans are not going to like: Earlier today, Senate File 483 was passed by the House.Â The bill extends the timeframe allowed by the state to pay refunds back on income tax refunds by a month.Â That is stealing from Iowans… actually a type of tax increase.Â Â If you have big refunds coming, it’s probably time to change your W4 to reduce the amount of the refund.
And the Standings Bill has resurrected a number of ideas that had previously be scuttled.
As I post this, it is 12:45 AM and debate continues.Â Democrats are probably relieved that they could put this off until Friday evening and Saturday morning.Â They’ve succeeded in delaying long enough that many Iowans just aren’t bothering to pay attention so they might be able to get away with what they want.Â Thank goodness House Republicans are continuing to put up a fight.
Iowans will remember today regardless. April 25 should become a new war cry against an arrogant government intent upon imposing its will upon the people of Iowa… indeed, this is a trend that did not start in Iowa, but clearly will be felt intensely here.Â “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain”.Â That’s our state motto.Â We should not roll over and allow the government to get away with putting us so deeply in debt against our will, both constitutionally and through voicing openly our opinion.
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And the Iowa Senate is gaveling back in.
At a cost, it seems. Democratic leaders got together yesterday after several days of stalemating between the Governor and Legislative Leaders (all Dems). As you may know, Culver wants to borrow $750 million for infrastructure projects, and both House and Senate leaders have been resistant to this approach (probably recognizing that most Iowans do not want to see the State borrowing this kind of money).Â So, while the good news is that legislators will probably get their work done in the next few days, the public may lose if this bond measure is passed (dubbed “I-JOBS“).
Only $150 million of the money would go to roads and bridges, and the rest to repairs from the disasters of 2008, renewable energy and other miscellaneous items.
I’m guessing this will include the $3 million needed from the State to get the $30 million in stimulus money from the Fed for the high-speed rail between Des Moines and Davenport which was talked up yesterday as part of Obama’s visit to Newton.
I don’t know a lot about the infrastructure needs in northwest Iowa, but evidently improvements are needed.Â Mentioned in this story, Culver wants to see highway 20 (an east-west state highway running between Sioux City and Dubuque, running through Fort Dodge, Cedar Falls, and Waterloo) upgraded to four-lanes across the entire state.
Problem 1: Culver wants to use gambling revenues to cover the payments.Â Â The gaming industry is not the most reliable, and the tax credits we recently implemented certainly demonstrate that and reduce the revenue from this source.Â As Iowans (and others from out of state) become less and less interested in sustaining this industry, we will likely struggle with having revenues from these sources.Â Which means we could end up spending general fund money on this.
Problem 2: This money is not even being allocated for actual projects.Â A committee will be deciding how to spend the money (I wonder how much they’ll need for new carpets).Â So we don’t know where the money will be spent until after we’ve borrowed it.Â This will help perpetuate an already painful cycle of overspending and then cries for more money later.
Problem 3: Much of the road work to be done by this bonding will need to be replaced before we pay off the bonds.
Problem 4: Culver’s urgency in getting this passed “quickly” leads me to believe that he knows his position is tenuous, and that perhaps we need to look more closely at who will benefit from this.Â I know it won’t be me.
Problem 5: Borrowing should be confined to emergencies, and should be emergencies AFTER we’ve exhausted the emergency (rainy day) funds already in place.
Peter Orazem, an Economic professor at Iowa State University, recently stated that the bond plan is unnecessary.Â There is already over $1 billion of money going into flood relief and infrastructure improvements (from the rainy day funds and Federal moneys) that will provide enough jobs for those out of work in the construction industry.Â Indeed, Iowa’s unemployment rate for construction workers (2.6%) is significantly below the national rate (over 10%).Â Clearly, we risk creating projects that while funded, cannot be completed timely due to the lack of skilled workers.Â And, as Professor Orazem explains, that will increase the costs for all projects (workers will be able to demand more money).
What troubles me is that there are other moneys specifically set aside for these types of projects.Â The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) appropriations for 2008 and 2009 (estimated) were more than double for 2006 and 2007.Â Evidently, revenues driving into RIIF are likely down due to tax credits provided to the gambling industry beginning this year, and interest on rainy-day funds is down due to rate drops and the use of some of that money.
If we don’t have the money and really need to have all this work done, perhaps it’s time to prioritize better.Â We continue to have money come in from the Fuel Tax which is supposed to be used for roads and bridges, and we have money coming from the Fed to cover some $350 million in infrastructure costs.
I’m opposed to the bonding.Â I can’t see this being the right solution.Â Â Culver presses the fact that it will bring jobs to Iowa, but once the money is spent, then what?Â Then the jobs go away.Â It seems to me that infrastructure management should be designed as a structured and sustainable function ofÂ the government that grows at a rate tied to inflation and population growth.Â We shouldn’t even have to come up with new solutions for infrastructure each year, and we definitely shouldn’t have to have special bonds to support maintenance and real growth related improvements.Â Revenues specific to this operation should be tied directly to growth and use.Â What makes increasing the Fuel Tax an appropriate option, in my opinion, is that this source of funding does not account for inflation automatically as it is structured today.
Let’s get the work done this year that is really needed; we’ve got the money for that.Â Let’s get the areas impacted by last year’s disasters back on their feet and worry about making things even better next year.
Oh yeah, right, next year’s an election year.Â Gotta choose doing what’s right versus getting elected.Â Chet, I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you.Â 2010 will be one year when the prior 24 months won’t be so easily forgotten.
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I wonder if anyone has looked at the revenue impact of the smoking ban.Â I’m just saying.
I attended the event this evening and while George did not make any comments that sounded like â€œHey, I want to be your next Presidentâ€, this was definitely seemed like a pre-exploratory event. He had some great comments about the current state of affairs, and took questions which I also think he answered well.Â Some in New York (see comments on this post) have speculated about him running for other posts in that state, others have suggested he could be a possible contender for President in 2012. Even if he does not run for anything, he certainly provides a strong sense of some of the things the GOP needs to do to take back the Peopleâ€™s Government.
There were about 90 people at the event tonight, including a number of Republican/Conservative activists that I’ve gotten to know, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Joseph Heuertz (and other leaders) of the Drake College Republicans, John Bloom, Polk County Republican Chair (along with probably a dozen members of the Polk County Republican Central Committee, one of the sponsors of the event), Steve Rathje, David Van Ahn, Kim Schmett, Ed Failor Jr. (Iowans for Tax Relief), Craig Robinson (The Iowa Republican) and probably a dozen other folks I’m either forgetting or should know.
We would have had a larger group, but the Iowa General Assembly was in session this evening (I hope they actually got something done).
The organization that put on the event was America Future Fund.Â They tout themselves as the conservative answer to moveon.org, and they did an excellent job of arranging this event (future lectures in the series are planned for other locations in Iowa… more info here as it becomes available).Â The group is headquartered here in Iowa, and I believe they were active in 18 states during the 2008 election.Â The Communications Director, Tim Albrecht, runs The Bean Walker, an Iowa version of the Drudge Report.Â Iâ€™ve gotten to know him over the past few months, and he seems like a pretty sharp guy.Â I think this group is worth a close look.
I’m definitely looking forward to future lecture events.Â Regardless of where Pataki is headed, this was a good start to getting conservatives motivated and energized for the 2010 elections.
This coming Wednesday evening April 22, at 7:00, George Pataki will be speaking at Drake University in the first of a lecture series being provided by The American Future Fund.Â The Polk County Republicans are a sponsor of the event.Â The lecture is titled: “Yes We Still Can: Why Washington Failed and How We Can Reclaim America’s Future”.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 7 p.m.
Cartright Hall, Room 213
Drake University Law School
2621 Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA
For more information and to RSVP, click here.
Chuck Grassley will be conducting a townhall type of event this afternoon (3:30 – 4:30 PM Central Time) using Twitter.
I don’t have any idea how this is going to work.Â Evidently, Chuck is way ahead of me.
I’m not saying I lack the technical savey to engage in this event… I just need some clarification on how to properly engage in this.Â I have twitter.Â I actually use it to follow a number of twitter sources, and I provide updates occasionally as well with the tool.Â I even have tweetdeck running on my computer at home.Â And I think I’ve done the “@” function at least once (to send a direct message to someone).
At any rate, the event is being provided by impromptu studioÂ and the #dmtweetup group.Â The video below (which will only be live during the event) will probably provide instructions.Â If I have a chance to update this post to explain, I will.
The good news is that, if the other events across the country were like Des Moines, we are definitely beginning something that can make a difference.
I appreciated the fact that the organizers were intent on ensuring the event was non-partisan.Â Even when Republican lawmakers came out to the event, they were asked to step aside… they were not allowed to be the center of attention.
I got a bunch of crowd, sign and speaker photos.Â I’m trying out Flickr.Â I haven’t had time to make it all perfect, but want to see how well this is received.Â Let me know.
One big highlight was a large sign in the back that read “Declaration Of Independence” for people to sign to show their support.Â By the end of the event, it was covered with signatures.Â I thought that was really cool.
It will be interesting to see how the Main Stream Media reports this tomorrow.
The entire set can be found at Flickr at this link.
Every time Democrats tell us they are going to debate House File 807/Senate File 468, which repeals Iowa’s Income Tax deduction on Federal Income Tax (also referred to as putting a “Tax on a Tax”), the public shows up to convey their opposition and watch the proceedings, only to have them postpone the debate to another day.
Why, when Grand-stall and Smurphy tell us that they have the votes to pass the legislation, do they delay getting the work done?
- They don’t have the votes.
- They are afraid that the presence of actual voters might cause some Democrats to think twice about how they will vote.
- They are afraid that the presence of actual voters might cause Governor Culver to think twice about whether he will sign the bill.
- They are afraid they might be forced to say something that is blatantly stupid or a lie in order to make their case stronger.Â Like the bill is revenue neutral (lie) or that lower income Iowans will benefit (lie) or that only rich people will be negatively impacted (stupid).
- Or they are just plain afraid of a headline that might read “Iowa Democrats Lead Government Rebellion Against Taxpayers”.Â I kind of like that one… I hope I don’t get to use.
I suspect we will see a quiet attempt to slip this bill through once they think no one is looking.Â We must, all Iowan taxpayers, keep our eyes and ears open in the coming days to ensure we are there when the votes are cast… the politicians must not be allowed to sneak this through without public scrutiny.
Don’t let them raise your taxes.
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I really don’t get this one when I look at face value.Â Who benefits?Â What is the problem that this solves?Â Don’t be fooled, it’s not about making life better for those with lower incomes… it’s about increasing revenue.Â Even with a “revenue neutral” model for 2010 and 2011, there is a dramatic increase in revenue in 2012 and later.
And if this does pass, two things need to happen:
- Get Democrats out of office.
- Make Republicans PROMISE to fix it when they have control.
If we don’t hold Republicans’ feet to the fire, it will be too easy even for them to accept the inflated revenue and spend it on something.Â This is not intended as a criticism of Republicans (I count myself in their number), but of human nature.
No matter who is in office, you have to hold them accountable.
House Republicans offered another $52.9 million in cost-saving measures to the education budget bill brought up in the House today.
â€œFrom day one, House Republicans promised to dive into budgets and find savings.Â Today we delivered on that promise for Iowans,â€ said House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha).Â â€œInstead of funding more bureaucracy, Republicans believe we need to fund students and classrooms.â€
To date, House Republicans have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving measures to budget bills.Â Of these, House Democrats have accepted less than $2 million.
Below is a list of amendments, a brief description and the amount of savings that were offered by House Republicans to Senate File 470, the education budget bill.
H-1553 by Raecker â€“ Regents Library AcquisitionsÂ Â Page 12, line 17: For one year the Regents universities are required to spend 50% less on library acquisitions.Â Savings:Â $12 million
H-1546 by VanEngelenhoven -Â Executive Council approves out-of-state travel.Â Savings:Â $1 million
H-1547 by MayÂ – 20% reduction in printing, binding; 50% reduction in advertising.Â Savings:Â $3.5 million
H-1552 by DolecheckÂ – Eliminates all funded, unfilled FTE positions that have been open for 6 months.Â Savings:Â $700,000
H-1554 by Raecker – 50% reduction for all office supplies, service contracts, equipment purchases.Â Savings:Â $23 million
H-1555 by Tymeson – Prohibits expenditures for cell phones and PDAs for state employees.Â Savings:Â $500,000
H-1556 by Rants – FleetÂ purchases deferred.Â Savings:Â $11 million
H-1557 by KoesterÂ Â – State employees must provide meal receipts instead of claiming maximum.Â Agency may require electronic submission of receipts.Â Savings:Â $500,000
H-1566 by Tymeson â€“ Identical to Wendt amendment which strikes repeal of MHEC.Â Savings:Â $450,000
H-1572Â by Kaufmann and StruykÂ â€“Limit on RegentsÂ Sabbaticals.Â Savings:Â $250,000
It amazes me that House Democrats are so obstinate and out of control that they would intentionally work at weaseling their way to spending as much as they possibly can.Â The good news is, the public should be able to see plainly just how greedy and careless these folks are spending the public’s money… this should be MORE than adequate reason to plan on a major voter revolt in 2010.Â I’d prefer to see the foolishness end now, but it seems more likely that Democrats would prefer to thoroughly thumb their nose in the face of Iowans instead of doing what is right and what they KNOW Iowans want.
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Don’t forget the Tea Party on Wednesday… 11:00 at the West Lawn of the Iowa State Capitol.Â Â Let your voice be heard!!!
So, the leadership of the Iowa General Assembly are again hoping to end the session this week.Â From their standpoint, I think they hope to finish up the budget, pass the repeal of Federal Deductibility, and avoid any more discussion about a Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution.
It might be a bit of a challenge.
The next three days, various groups will be descending on the Iowa Statehouse, and you can join them.
Monday, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM: Protest of the Supreme Court Decision regarding Gay Marriage:
West side of the Iowa Capitol Building, Des Moines
Please dress warm.Â In case of rain, go inside the Capitol.
- Everyday America
- Iowa Christian Alliance â€“ Norm Pawlewski
- Concerned Women of America â€“ Tamara Scott
- Iowa Eagle Forum
- Iowa Family Policy Center
- Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators
- and many more to be announced Monday.
Tuesday, 10:00 AM: Protest of the planned Repeal of Federal Deductibility (“Tax on a Tax”)
From Iowans for Tax Releif:
We need you to come to the Iowa Capitol on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 10:00am to make your voice heard.Â The Legislature will be in session all day and we need taxpayers to show up and say “No Tax on a Tax”.
If you still have your red shirt and “No Tax on a Tax” buttons, please bring them along and wear them proudly.
The bill to repeal federal deductibility and forces you to pay a tax on a tax, has a new amendment.Â House Democrat leaders filed the amendment on Wednesday in effort to improve House File 807, but is still bad for taxpayers.
Governor Culver called the plan a $54 million tax cut.Â His description is clearly imaginative.Â The numbers provided by the Iowa Department of Revenue tell a different story.
The truth is:
2009Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $20.198 million tax cut
2010Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $34.898 million tax cut
2011Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $154.148 million tax INCREASE
2012Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $157.104 million tax INCREASE
2013Â Â Â Â Â Â Â $149.01 million tax INCREASE
NET RESULTÂ Â $405.166 million TAX INCREASE for Iowans over the next five years.
This new plan and the majority party’s explanation is similar to the story of a schoolyard bully.Â What Iowa kid would be happy with the following occurring?
The bully tells a kid, “look I’m not going to steal your lunch money on Monday.Â In fact, I’m going to give you a $20 bill.Â On Tuesday, I’m going to give you $34.Â See how nice I am, I just gave you $54.”
The bully continues, “but, you better have $154 for me Wednesday, and every day from then on.”
Ed Failor, Jr., President of Iowans for Tax Relief commented, “Iowa taxpayers are tired of being bullied into paying more and more taxes.Â The net result of this bill over the next five years is more than a $400 million tax increase on Iowans.Â How on earth is that a tax cut?”
To make matters worse, in 2011 just over 149,000 Iowa taxpayers who earn $40,000 per year, or less, will see an increase in their Iowa income tax burden.Â Is that really the Democrat definition of a middle class tax cut?” Failor concluded.
We can win this fight, but we need your help.
So we need action from you, your family, your neighbors, and friends.Â If you can not join us at the Capitol, then please continue your phone calls, faxes, and emails.
Please contact Governor Culver at his office:
- Office: (515) 281-5211
- Fax: (515) 242-5897
- Email: [email protected]
Please contact your Legislators at the Capitol:
- House Switchboard: (515) 281-3221
- Senate Switchboard: (515) 281-3371
- Lookup your Legislator at: http://www.taxrelief.org/legislators
Thank you for all of your support and we look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 10:00am!
Wednesday, 11:00 to 2:00 PM: Des Moines Tea Party at Iowa State Capitol West Lawn to Protest State and Federal Spending and Taxation
From the Des Moines Tea Party web site:
- Bring folding chair if you need seating
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Bring your own signs (no sticks or poles)
- Bring your camera!
- Parking (see info in sidebar at right)
- Be prepared to have fun – it is going to be a hoot!
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With all of this distraction, it will be a wonder if the Legislature gets anything done.Â Â Personally, I hope they do get done… at least save us SOME money!