Report, week ending 6/10/11

House of Representatives
State of Iowa
Eighty-Fourth General Assembly
STATEHOUSE
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Lee Hein
STATE REPRESENTATIVE
Thirty-First District
Statehouse: (515) 281-3221

e-mail – lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us
HOME ADDRESS 11989 Richland Road Monticello, IA 52310

COMMITTEES
Agriculture, Vice Chair Environmental Protection State Government Ways and Means
APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
Justice System

We’re beginning the month of June still with no budget resolution from Democrats, who are committed to shutting down state government. They have developed a shutdown strategy and have no plans to pass a budget before July 1. Democrats believe that they will win a political victory if a shutdown occurs. They believe Iowans will apply great amounts of pressure to Republicans to force us into spending more and more money.

At the start of the 2011 session, Republicans indicated that fiscal responsibility and economic certainty are keys to putting Iowa back on track and creating jobs. With that in mind, we approved legislation that provided broad-based tax relief. We toured the state to identify regulatory red tape that’s making it hard to create jobs. Our first bill contained multiple reforms to shrink government and save taxpayers over $500 million. These efforts have been largely rejected by Democrats.

When Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate released budgets in February, $147 million separated us. Negotiations began at that point.
After an entire session of joint budget meetings, we drilled down into the line items and spent three days with the Senate, working to identify and resolve differences in each budget area. We found agreement with the Governor and made an honest offer to close the $147 million difference by moving $101 million towards their position.

Knowing that Iowans chose to keep Democrats in charge of the Senate, we crafted a budget with room to move. Even by moving $101 million towards their position, the state is only spending 95% of total available revenue. We think this is a responsible and sustainable level of spending.

The budget disagreement boils down this: Democrats want to spend more money. In fact, the longer they are here the more they want to spend. Their own budgets blow past the targets they set for themselves. They want to continue the status quo and have threatened a government shutdown to do so.

This week, House Republicans tried a different strategy, one to make progress and avoid the Democrats’ shutdown. As Iowans have been asking for action, last week we proposed an omnibus bill, to try to move forward. This bill is made up of legislation that has already been debated – measures that have been made public for months. We held a public hearing on Tuesday and passed the bill through the normal committee process prior to debate on the floor.

The omnibus bill contains a large commitment to education. In addition to the $216 million in new funds for Fiscal Year 2012, it also includes 2% allowable growth for Fiscal Year 2013. House Republicans are committed to funding Iowans’ priorities and are showing that we can do that while being fiscally responsible.

Overall, this bill still spends $5.9 billion and restores good budget practices. We end the Democrats’ habit of spending more than the state takes in all while meeting the priority needs of Iowans.

Senate Democrats have already rejected this plan out of hand, even before they read the bill. While their shutdown strategy may be good politics for them, it is bad for Iowans. If they continue down this road, it will be difficult to stop them unless Iowans stand up and make their thoughts known.

Wednesday afternoon we passed the Omnibus bill out of the House. It is still another attempt to keep the process moving to close the session. We want to come to agreement but need to spend less than we take in, being responsible stewards of the taxpayer’s money. House Majority eagerly waits to continue negotiations with the Senate.

As always, you can contact me at lee.hein@legis.state.ia.us or (515) 281-7330. You can read any of my newsletters at http://www.iowahouserepublicans.com/members/lee-hein. Also, if you are ever in Des Moines make sure you stop by the Capitol to visit.

Sincerely, Lee Hein

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