Paul McKinley is the Iowa Senate Republican Leader
Iowans received more sobering news on the economy late last week. Unemployment ticked up to 6.9 percent with 116,800 Iowans out of work â€“ an increase of 2,600 from the month before.
This news comes as Governor Culver is traveling the state touting his $1.7 billion dollar I-JOBS program that he promised would create 30,000 jobs and spur an economic revitalization of Iowaâ€™s economy. But since unveiling his I-JOBS idea during the Condition of the State address in January 2009, Iowa has actually lost over 30,000 jobs while nearly $1.7 billion has been added to the stateâ€™s credit card.
Based on employment numbers from Iowa Workforce Development, the graph below illustrates the month by month unemployment numbers since Governor Culver announced his temporary work program.
Clearly, Culverâ€™s expensive program has failed. Government cannot create jobs â€“ itâ€™s the private sector and small business that is the engine of job growth.
Thatâ€™s why we need a new direction for Iowa â€“ one that actually puts the focus on private sector job creation and puts Iowans back into good paying jobs in every county and community in this state.
Senate Republicans have a better plan.
Instead of empowering government bureaucrats to pick winners as is the direction taken by Governor Culver and legislative Democrats, Senate Republicans believe we must give entrepreneurs, employers and small business owners the tools they need to not only succeed today â€“ but into the future as well.
Our detailed three point plan involves providing an immediate jolt of adrenaline to Iowaâ€™s economy by offering aggressive tax incentives for hiring more Iowans while also cultivating good ideas and encouraging entrepreneurs to come forward to develop or expand their venture right here in Iowa.
In addition, our plan includes putting together an extensive volunteer commission of business leaders and entrepreneurs from around that state that will be tasked with identifying the onerous barriers and regulations that are holding back growth, development, expansion and job creation in Iowa. The Legislature and governor will need to act on these citizen suggestions.
When Governor Culver took office and legislative Democrats took over both chambers of the Legislature in January of 2007, Iowaâ€™s unemployment was at 3.6 percent. Today it is on the verge of 7 percent.
Last year, Iowa lost 222 factories and two-thirds of Iowaâ€™s counties lost population because of a lack of jobs. Today we remain 49th in the nation in friendliness to job creators according to US News & World Report and 41st according to the very reputable Small Business Survival Index.
We have now seen four years of sky high property taxes, irresponsible spending and generational debt. Year after year, Democrats have discussed and in some instances passed damaging anti-jobs legislation like gutting Iowaâ€™s Right to Work status, decimating our workerâ€™s compensation system, fundamentally altering our collective bargaining methods and implementing a property tax increasing prevailing wage.
We can and must do better. The status quo in Iowa cannot continue.
Senate Republicans know we can experience a 99 county resurgence. Iowa is filled with promise because we have wonderful people in welcoming communities who have a burning passion to build a better Iowa for their families, friends and neighbors.
We must begin to change direction, reignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector and welcome the new economy of tomorrow. Let us again put our faith in the people to move Iowa forward instead of allowing government to hold us back.
As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Senate Republican Leader
From Iowa Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley:
Of all the weeks on the calendar, this may be the week Iowa taxpayers look forward to the least.
On one hand, this week marks the deadline for filing federal tax returns. Many Iowans will likely write bigger checks to both the federal and state government this year.
On the other hand, this is also the week where every school district in the state must certify their budget for the upcoming school year. Normally, this might not seem like a particularly noteworthy annual occurrence to everyday Iowans. But due to the recent actions by Governor Culver and legislative Democrats, property tax increases are on the way.
Last fall, when Governor Culver made his 10 percent across-the-board reduction after three years of unsustainable spending and irresponsible budgeting, hundreds of millions of dollars were slashed from Iowaâ€™s schools. This left a gaping divide between the money schools had to spend and the budget they had been following.
This forced school districts to further trim their expenses, raid their cash reserves (if they had any to begin with) and increase property taxes.
Fast forward a few months and the same problems still persist.
Even though Governor Culver and legislative Democrats spent the second highest amount of money in Iowa history this legislative session, they underfunded the K-12 per-pupil education formula by $162 million dollars.
Though most school districts have made drastic cuts to adjust to the decrease in funding from the state, many school districts have had to dip into their cash reserves and in most cases, substantially increase property taxes. Conservative estimates show that Governor Culverâ€™s property tax increase this year will be in the neighborhood of $182 million dollars when all of the other non-school funding related increases are also added in. It could possibly end up larger.
Itâ€™s hard to miss the headlines popping up all over the state this week reminding Iowans of the higher property taxes headed their way. (Special Request: How big was your property tax increase this year? Please e-mail me at [email protected])
Iowa already has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. At a time when we should be encouraging entrepreneurs, employers and small businesses to invest and expand in Iowa to help grow our economy and create jobs, this property tax increase will sting badly. The simple truth is that property tax increases badly hurt job growth and business development.
Unfortunately, it was all avoidable.
Every year, our schools receive over four billion dollars. Of that, half a billion dollars comes with a whole series of strings and unfunded mandates attached. In order to assist our schools and shield the taxpayers from the governorâ€™s property tax increases, Senate Republicans offered a bold plan this past session to suspend these mandates and remove these strings to allow greater flexibility and local control.
Normally, these dollars cannot be used for a schoolâ€™s general fund. However, our common sense plan would allow schools the flexibility to use that money to pay for any expense.
Instead of having to abide by mandates created by lawmakers and bureaucrats in Des Moines, Senate Republicans believed it would be better to give local school boards and administrators the flexibility and local control to spend that money as they see fit.
Regrettably, it was defeated with all Senate Democrats voting to raise property taxes and all Senate Republicans voting to give our schools more local flexibility and more protection for the taxpayer.
Governor Culver and legislative Democrats instead chose to mandate school districts drain their cash reserves. When our school districts replenish their cash reserves in the future, that money will again come directly out of the pockets of Iowaâ€™s property taxpayers.
Is there any wonder why tea parties are popping up all over the state, demanding an end to the policies of the last four years here in Iowa? Iowans know we cannot afford to have the same out-of-control agenda continue to be repeated year after year.
In the coming weeks and months, Senate Republicans will continue to advocate for property tax relief, private sector job creation and responsible and sustainable budgets. We believe that is the recipe for a smarter, healthier and more abundant future for Iowans.
As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Senate Republican Leader
After three years of job losses, unbalanced budgets and property tax increases, Governorâ€™s record does not match his rhetoric.
DES MOINES, IA â€“ Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) issued the following statement today regarding Governor Culverâ€™s Condition of the State Address delivered to a joint session of the 83rd General Assembly:
â€œI reject the notion that Governor Culver has balanced the budget without raising taxes. Iowans are faced with the reality of higher property taxes and they know better than to believe the governorâ€™s hollow rhetoric.
â€œGovernor Culver cannot continue promoting legislation that creates barriers to job growth, encourages employers to leave our state, raises property taxes and expect Iowans to believe he is serious about creating long-term private sector jobs.
â€œThe Governor and I can agree on one thing and that is that Iowans are resilient. They have been resilient in the face of obstacles created by this Governor to job creation, economic prosperity and fiscal responsibility. Senate Republicans intend to focus on solutions that will make it easier for long-term sustainable jobs to be created, to provide necessary property tax relief and to craft a budget that is fiscally responsible and sustainable.
DES MOINES, IA â€“ Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) today delivered his opening day speech of the second session of the 83rd Iowa General Assembly on the floor of the Iowa Senate. His remarks, as prepared for delivery, are as follows:
â€œThank you Mr. President.
Friends and colleagues:
There is an ancient Chinese curse that says, â€œMay you live in interesting times.â€ Is there any doubt that we live in interesting times?
As we start this new legislative session in this new decade, we are faced with a great number of challenges. Before the gavel falls for the final time this year, I know this body will be asked to act on many of these challenges. We are all going to be asked to make choices and take votes that we all wish we could avoid.
As we convene today in these interesting times, our state faces the largest deficit its history as a result of this Legislature passing and this governor signing the largest amount of spending in state history just months ago. Never in Iowaâ€™s 164 years have we seen a deficit top $1 billion dollars but that is precisely the fiscal predicament that we must contend with in this shortened session.
Iowa does not have a revenue problem â€“ we have a spending problem. Only three months ago, Governor Culver signed a ten percent across-the-board cut. Given the level of unsustainable spending and because our Constitution thankfully demands a balanced budget, action needed to be taken. Yet, it was all avoidable.
Some may wish to cast blame with Washington or Wall Street but that misses the mark. Had we spent at the rate of inflation since 2004, our state would not have had the $415 million dollar hole that needed to be eliminated by the governorâ€™s across-the-board cut. Instead, we would have had a balanced budget, an $80 million dollar surplus and very few of the difficult fiscal decisions that we now must tackle in the coming weeks. Even after the governor made his across-the-board reduction, we are still left with the second most spending ever.
Republicans offered hundreds of millions in immediate cost savings last year and while most of them were voted down, we will continue to work hard to find savings, eliminate waste and offer innovative solutions that will result in a leaner and more efficient delivery of services to our constituents. Senate Republicans will continue to offer common sense solutions and a fiscally responsible vision for the years ahead.
If this body is truly serious about reorganizing government, Republicans stand ready to offer our solutions and suggestions to fundamentally and systemically reform the way our government operates. We must strive for lasting reforms and reject short-sighted attempts that will only further exacerbate the problem later. Now is not the time to kick the can further down the road.
We must now work together to pass a sustainable and responsible budget that funds the core essential services of government and reflects the priorities of our citizens. We must accomplish this without shifting taxes onto local governments, raising fees or continuing the past practice of using one-time dollars for ongoing expenditures.
While much of our focus may be on the budget, we face another tremendous challenge. We have 113,000 Iowans in the ranks of the unemployed and many other of our fellow citizens are underemployed having endured furloughs, benefit cuts and hour reductions. Our unemployment rate is now at levels not seen since the depths of the Farm Crisis a generation ago.
Senate Republicans believe we must make this session about jobs. We must grow this economy and send a clear message that Iowa is a destination for all those who wish to find success and fulfill their economic dreams. We must never lose focus on the future and remember that while we aim to help the Iowans of today, we are also building a state so that all of our children, grandchildren and the future generations of Iowans can find a job, build a business and raise their families here. Many of us have been given so much and have achieved our dreams as a result of the lives we have lived in this wonderful state. We must work every day this session to make it possible for others to realize their dreams here too.
Last session, Iowa put $1.7 billion dollars on the credit card to create temporary government make-work. Yet, all of that debt, to be paid off over three decades, will not lead to good paying sustainable private sector jobs. It is one thing to pay someone to dig a ditch and fill it back up and it is another thing to make it easier for sustainable private sector jobs to be created in every community in every county. We must move away from the mindset of allowing government to pick winners and losers and strive to help all who seek success.
Jobs can be created during a recession and during tough economic times. I know because I created lots of jobs in southern Iowa during the Farm Crisis. We must unleash the entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity of the private sector. We know small business, the engine of economic growth in this state, is responsible for two out of every three new jobs created. We must not add additional barriers that will make it more difficult for jobs to be created.
Already, weâ€™ve learned that the property taxpayers of this state will likely be forced to shoulder upwards of $270 million in growth stopping increases this year alone. Letâ€™s create a climate with reasonable levels of regulation and taxation that encourages private investment in our workforce. Itâ€™s time to set aside the legislation that raises taxes, puts out of balance the labor-management relationship and enacts new over zealous regulations that send jobs across our borders. We should not punish the very people who we need to help grow our state. Senate Republicans intend to focus on jobs and property tax relief and for the future of Iowa, our kids and grandchildren, I pray there is bi-partisan support.
Besides getting our fiscal house in order, working to make it easier for sustainable private sector jobs to be created and helping the property taxpayers, we will certainly be asked work on other important endeavors. Challenges exist in education, health care, energy, agriculture and with our natural resources. We must do better in providing oversight and never stop trying to make our government more open and transparent. We must also challenge ourselves to guarantee ample public safety and ensure that we have roads and infrastructure that are safe, reliable and capable of supporting the Iowa economy of the future.
With a shortened session, we must work efficiently and diligently on behalf of the citizens of this great state â€“ the citizens and taxpayers who elected us and put their trust in us to carry out their wishes. They are asking us to lay the foundation for a brighter and more optimistic future. Senate Republicans are eager and energized to play a significant role in leading Iowa forward.
This is now the second session where I have served as the Republican Leader and as I have traveled extensively throughout this wonderful state in the past few months, Iâ€™ve met with Iowans from all corners of the state and from all walks of life. Iâ€™ve heard one common message: government is too big, too out-of-touch and it is increasingly out-of-control. In fact, I know there are tea partiers here today and I welcome their scrutiny. Whether Iowans are gathering at tea parties all over the state demanding a greater voice, less spending, a smaller government, more freedom, liberty and opportunity or whether they want us, the members of the General Assembly, to finally give them a vote on the basic definition of marriage: we have a duty to listen to their concerns for they are the reason we are in this chamber today.
We, as elected officials, have been granted an incredible authority to set policy and represent the people of this state. As individuals, we are here to serve as the voice and vote of our constituents in our districts but together we must work for the betterment of all.
Senate Republicans are again ready to get to work for the people of this state. Our agenda is straight forward: if it helps streamline government, keeps government within its means and does not ask for the taxpayer to shoulder even more of the burden through higher taxes, you will see broad Republican support. If the proposals help make it easier for sustainable private sector jobs to be created, you will see broad Republican support. If we are about expanding freedom, liberty and opportunity in this state, Republicans will be on board. But if the proposals and legislation seeks to do otherwise â€“ if they seek to continue to grow government, raise taxes and make it more difficult for jobs to be created – do not be surprised to find us strongly opposed.
I want to conclude by offering one more famous Chinese proverb. It says, quite simply, â€œMay you find what you are looking for.â€ There are 50 of us in this chamber and together we represent the three million Iowans that call our beautiful state home. Every Iowan is unique and special but we all are looking for similar things: a better life and jobs for our family, good schools and safe communities for our children and a government that lives within its means, promotes liberty and fosters opportunity.
Iowans are blessed with common sense, are hardworking, frugal and optimistic about the future. They care about their communities, their schools and the neighbors around them. Our people are smart, they love this state and they want what is best for their families. This sense of independence, community and self sufficiency is the bedrock and lifeblood of this great state.
Mr. President, let us work together every day to offer a more optimistic, hopeful and prosperous future. Always be proud to be an Iowan and though we live in interesting times, may we all find what we are looking for.
Thank you very much.â€
I attended this morning’s 2010 Republican Legislative Kickoff Breakfast. At least 200 people, including legislators, party leaders, lobbyists and candidates were in attendance. The event was opened by Jim Kurtenbach, Iowa Republican Party Co-chair. Brief speeches were given by:
- Steve King, US House District 5 Representative. Â Invocation and some comments. Â He acknowledged that the results of our work are in God’s hands.
- Linda Upmeyer , Iowa House Republican Whip. Â She reminded us to pray, work to get volunteers on campaigns, and raise the financial resources needed to win.
- Kraig Paulsen , Iowa House Republican Leader. Â He commented that he has a lot of love in his trunk, plus a few sticks of dynomite.
- Steve Kettering, Iowa Senate Republican Whip, Â He said “A comeback for Republicans is a comeback for all Iowans!”
- Paul McKinley, Iowa Senate Republican Leader. Â Paul related a story about meeting some US Department of Labor employees in New York who stayed at the Ritz Carlton at the government’s expense… their comment: “It’s a new day!”.
- Matt Strawn, Iowa Republican Party Chair. Â “Iowans have gotten a taste of what a Democrat dominated government is like” and “we have solutions”.
Through out the speeches, a consistent message of satisfaction that all Iowa Republicans in the 2009 voted consistently with the party, that we cannot support a budget that exceeds revenue, that we need to give Iowans the right to vote on the definition of Marriage, labor unions cannot be allowed to destroy Iowa businesses, and that Democrats are extremely vulnerable.
I was honored to sit next Royd Chambers from Sheldon, who was deployed with the Iowa Air National Guard to Kyrgyzstan during the 2009 session. I was also seated next to Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. I had a good chat with Bill about the upcoming budget work in his department, and it sounds like everyone is putting the nose to the grindstone!
Governor Branstad was there, as well as Bob Vander Plaats. I’m assuming the Rod Roberts and Chris Rants were also there, but I did not get a chance to see them. Other candidates that I happened to see included:
- George Eichhorn, running for Secretary of State
- Dave Funk, Brad Zaun (Iowa Senator from Urbandale), and Mark Rees, all three running for US House District 3
- Chris Reed and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, both running for US House District 2
I saw Dave Vaudt as well… Tom Latham was not able to attend the event.
Overall, the event was encouraging and a great opportunity to connect with folks I had not seen in a while. Â Although Republicans are in the minority, our legislators are ready to do the hard work of helping reduce unnecessary spending and fight for Iowans rights.