At the Capitol

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New session begins

The 2013 session is underway. The Senate will be controlled by the Democrats this session; they have 26 members versus 24 Republicans.

The party that is in control has the power over the entire agenda, including what policies get discussed and brought up for a vote. The Iowa House of Representatives will be controlled by the Republicans with 53 members versus 47 Democrats.

Having split control of both chambers will require both parties working together to pass any bill. Note, a bill must pass the House and the Senate, and be signed by the Governor before it becomes law. So, working together will be required.

Governor's 2013 Policy Proposals

The Governor laid out three key points he wants passed this session. They are:

1. Property Tax Reduction. He wants to reduce all classes of property tax through a $400 million dollar backfill over four years. He also noted that he wants to fully fund the Homestead and elderly tax credits this year.

2. Changing the State's Educational System. The Governor wants top-tier teachers being mentors to new teachers. This new role for teachers would be a $160 million expenditure to the state over four years. The plan would also increase the beginning wage for new teachers to $35,000. This funding would push better students into education (theoretically).

3. Improving the Health of Iowa. The Governor's plan creates a loan repayment plan for students who practice medicine in the state for five years. The plan also creates a Certificate of Merit Board where malpractice lawsuits would need to go in front of before they can go to court. This would limit frivolous lawsuits and create a better medical environment in the state.

The Governor's new budget would increase the state's budget by 4.2%. It would be going up to $6.54 billion. The Governor creates a budget and a plan for policy. But, the Legislature decides what policies should be enacted and how much money should be spent. The discussions have begun. Hopefully, we can create some positive policy and a responsible fiscal budget this year.

Over the next three months these issues, along with many others, will be discussed. My goal is to pass an income tax reduction plan that will reduce each Iowan's income tax bill by 15% over a three year period. Currently, we have an $800 million surplus in the budget; it's time to take in less money!!

I will be having several forums in the next few weeks. They will be February 1st in the Hawarden City Council Room from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and in Orange City in the City Council Chamber at noon.