The Governor was firm in his delivery and kept the speech short. He said right out of the chute that one-time money would not be used to balance the budget. He mentioned the $900 million which was spent last year that is not available this year, and there would be no borrowing to support ongoing programs. This practice is not sustainable, and I will support the Governor 100%. The bottom line is, this is the first budget in five years to align ongoing spending with ongoing revenue sources. In other words, we will not spend more than we take in. What a novel idea!
Governor Branstad made it clear he wants Iowa open for business. He would like to lower corporate and property taxes and simplify both systems. He has pledged to help create jobs and raise the incomes of Iowa families. By gaining better control of the budget, Governor Branstad believes the size of state government can be reduced, and I agree with him. By passing a two-year budget, the Governor claims it will be easier to set long range goals and make 5- to 10-year projections. He stressed transparency and openness in state government. Finally, he expressed a strong commitment to getting these reforms done now before it is too late.
Privately, Governor Branstad said he wished he would have had another couple of weeks to assemble his budget, so we all know this will not be the final product. There will be difficult decisions ahead, and I did not list many numbers or specific programs because things will be changing from day to day. I know there will be cuts and everyone will be asked to make sacrifices. Iowans are strong people, and we care about each other. That has always been one of our greatest assets. I look for our economy to slowly come back and jobs will return. If we can eliminate waste and make state government run more efficiently, all Iowans will benefit.
Finally, the Governor said he would like to give schools more flexibility and initiate regulatory and mandate reform. As the session unfolds, the intent is to hold 2 hearings in each Congressional district to gather information from citizens regarding rules and regulations. I believe these hearing will bear beneficial fruit.
On Thursday, the Iowa House passed House File 95, also known as the Voter Photo Identification Requirement bill. The bill requires all voters to show proof of identification before being allowed to vote at the polls. To me, it is pretty simple. Your name has to match with the name in the election register and you need to show a photo I.D. I supported the bill and it passed by a 60-40 margin and now heads for the Senate, where its fate is unknown.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is P.O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at email@example.com.