GOP: Kicking off the 2017 Session

January 6, 2017
By

UTGD

Kicking off the 2017 Session

With the holidays in the past and a new year upon us, newfound optimism is always afoot.  I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with family and friends over Christmas and hope you all had an opportunity to do so as well.

A few weeks back, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met to update their budget projections for the current and next fiscal years.  During their meeting, the REC decided to lower the current fiscal year revenue projection by about $96 million.  This means that when we come into the new legislative session we will face a manageable shortfall of about $110 million.

Based on this new projection, our first order of business once the session kicks off will be to find savings in the current state budget.  When the budget was approved at the end of last session, we had followed through on our promise to spend less than the state collected based on revenue projections.  Unfortunately, revenue has not been coming in as anticipated because of low commodity prices and a sluggish agricultural economy.  While we’re still seeing growth, it’s not as much as expected.

Governor Branstad has begun looking for savings and has indicated that he would like to leave K-12 education out of the discussion.  House Republicans tend to support that position as well, as we have prided ourselves over the last six years with providing K-12 schools with funding that they can depend on.

Our hope is that these cuts will largely be targeted to specific programs that are no longer necessary or have outlived their usefulness.  Many of us remember the devastation of Gov. Culver’s 10% across-the-board cuts that hurt local schools and had no regard for priority programs.  House Republicans have already tasked our budget subcommittee chairs with digging into their budgets to find savings, efficiencies, and duplication of state programs.  I’m looking forward to seeing their results.

In addition to the state budget, we’ll also be looking at a number of issues this session ranging from tax reform, water quality, flexibility for schools, and choice in education, among other things.

I’m very excited for the upcoming session.  With the first unified Republican state government since 1998, we expect to do bold things that grow our state and make Iowa a great place to live, work, raise a family, or start a business.

As the 2017 legislative session kicks off, I want to hear from you.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me as legislation is moving forward.  You can reach me at (515) 281-3521 or linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov.

 

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