Letter to the Editor

More progress in Des Moines

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This week marked my anniversary to my wife and friend of many years.  I want to thank Cami for all she has put up with through the years. She has been my friend, my partner and my rock and I appreciate her and all she does for our family and livelihood. 

BUDGET

We began this week with news on the state budget. The State Revenue Estimating Committee (REC) met on Tuesday and lowered the expected FY 2017 revenues by an additional $105.9 million. In December, the REC lowered estimated revenues by $117 million, which has already been de-appropriated.

Democrats are criticizing the budget management of Republicans but conveniently leave out the fact that they supported plans that increase state spending by more than $1 BILLION over the last two years. Without the Republican majority’s strong stand, key areas like local school budgets would be facing deep cuts. Iowans can count on House Republicans to stand strong against reckless government spending ideas.

Inaccurate revenue projections are not limited to Iowa. At least 30 states nationwide have had to make budget reductions in the middle of their fiscal year.

On Wednesday I learned of a letter to the editor that was filed by my friend, Senator Johnson. While I appreciate all that the senator has done for me and for us in northwest Iowa, the recent change in his views is troubling. I talked with Senator Johnson soon after the letter to the editor and told him that he is still my friend, despite our differences in philosophy and he should always count on me if he needs help, outside the political arena. I did inform him that I will not abide by his mis-representing the work we are doing in the legislature.

This week we dealt with the following bold solutions and sent them to the senate:

• School Funding Flexibility – House Files 564 and 565 provide schools with more flexibility, allowing locally elected officials to utilize unused funds that are typically reserved for specific purposes. These bills recognize that no two school districts are exactly alike and will allow each school district to better meet the specific needs of our students and teachers.

• Protecting Young Iowans from Synthetic Drugs – House File 296 will protect Iowa’s kids by keeping deadly synthetic drugs off the streets, while also making it easier to prosecute sellers of those drugs.

• Supporting Families with Autistic Children – House File 215 addresses the unique challenges parents of children with autism face by extending insurance coverage for autism treatments to Iowa families. Coverage for autism can be very expensive but is very beneficial for future growth. This legislation ensures access to programs with proven, positive outcomes in the child’s development.

• Privacy Protections for the 21st Century – House Joint Resolution 1 extends Fourth Amendment privacy protections to Iowans’ electronic communications and data, ensuring Constitutional rights keep up with today’s technology.

• Reining in an Out of Control Federal Government – House Joint Resolution 12 calls for a Convention of the States to address the federal government’s power and jurisdiction.

REFORMING IOWA'S TAX CREDIT PROGRAMS

All session long, House Democrats have blamed tax credits and exemptions for inaccurate revenue projections.

Many of these tax credits passed in a bipartisan way over the years. Reforming Iowa’s tax credit programs should be a bipartisan endeavor but it appears that Democrats simply want to talk about it rather than act, unfortunately.

This week the Appropriations Committee introduced House Study Bill 187 to reform the state’s various tax credit programs and track their fiscal impact. The bill sets a cap on the total amount of tax credits that can be redeemed each year and eliminates refundability of tax credits where businesses or individuals can receive a refund even if they have no tax liability.

There should be no sacred cows as we reevaluate these tax credits to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal. Every tax credit needs to be on the table.

As always, I appreciate serving you, House District 1, and will continue to bring our Northwest Iowa values to the concrete of Des Moines. Please let me know if you have any issues or thoughts.