**Senate President Jack Whitver’s opening remarks as prepared**
Good morning! Majority Leader Dix, Minority Leader Petersen, Senators, staff, family and friends welcome to the Iowa Senate as we begin the 2018 Legislative Session of the 87th General Assembly. Colleagues, thank you again for the honor to serve as president of the Iowa Senate!
The first day of the legislative session is one of my favorites as a legislator. Optimism runs high, and there are smiles and laughter heard throughout the Chamber as we reconnect with friends and colleagues.
More importantly, 50 senators unite in this Chamber with promising new ideas on how we will shape the future of Iowa. I have never been more optimistic about what lies ahead for our state. People around the country are taking notice of Iowa.
In just the last year, Iowa has been recognized for our great job climate – being named the BEST state in the country for the middle class. Our schools have also been recognized as we were named the #1 state in America in high school graduation rates and #4 in increased education funding. Our state has been recognized as the 3rd best managed state in America. There are so many reasons to be excited about the future. I have no doubt that our best days lie ahead of us!
As we embark on the 2018 session, I look forward to building on what many have said was the most historic session this body has ever seen. I am proud this legislature has maintained a great vision for the future, working on issues which will have a profound impact on our state for years to come.
One of my personal highlights last year was bringing my children to spend a day at the Capitol.
They joined us in the pledge of allegiance, watched debate, and enjoyed meeting many of you. I know they had a blast as they often ask when they can come back to visit this session.
However, as much fun as they had and the lessons they took away from the Capitol, it pales in comparison to what I gained from it. When things get hectic at the Capitol, big picture thinking can become blurred.
It is imperative we do not lose sight of why we are here.
My children remind me why I serve; and, I am guessing it is the same reason all of you serve.
We inherited a great state from our parents. It is our job to ensure our kids and our grandkids inherit an even better state from us. We must work diligently on behalf of the next generation so they have opportunities and experiences even greater than our own.
We want all Iowans to live in safe communities. Each one of us strives for Iowa children to receive a world class education and prepare them for work in a global economy. We want our young adults to stay in Iowa – not only for our great career opportunities, but for our outstanding quality of life. And just as important, we want our retirees to stay in Iowa to be close to their families and remain active members in their communities.
While my optimism for our future is great, the challenges of today still exist.
We need to work together to ensure Iowans have access to affordable healthcare, enhance our mental health system, improve our water quality, develop a skilled workforce and continue to revitalize rural Iowa.
In order to accomplish these goals and fund any initiatives, we must always continue to strive for growth in the state of Iowa. This requires more than reducing regulations or adjusting the language in the Iowa Code. It is being open-minded to bold ideas; and having the courage to lead to make that vision a reality.
Two courageous leaders of this nation earned the respect of their fellow Americans during their presidency – John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Both were visionaries, who shared a common belief that growth resulted from reducing taxes.
I share this belief and challenge the body to act bold in passing tax reform in the state of Iowa for the first time in over 20 years!
The question we must ask ourselves is do we want to succeed and remain in the top run states in the nation, or be complacent and let down the three million Iowans who are looking to us to lead?
We have a choice on which path we forge: One that moves us forward and focuses on economic growth and security for our future generations, or the other which takes us a step backward – slowing economic prosperity and progress.
Progress to me is measurable: low unemployment rates, job creation, revenue growth, more disposable income and lower tax rates. I am confident we all want to see this kind of progress for Iowa, and this can be achieved if we have the courage to act boldly.
Allowing people to keep more of their hard-earned money is not a new idea. JFK discussed this decades before I was even born. He said, “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”
Reagan spent his two terms in the White House also fighting to ease the tax burden on hard-working Americans. “Death and taxes may be inevitable,” Reagan said, “but unjust taxes are not.”
Like Kennedy and Reagan, let us choose a path of growth and prosperity. Let’s continue to look beyond the next election, and look to the next generation as we ensure the 2018 session is even more historic than 2017.
Thank you and welcome back.