Senate Republicans Release Education Funding Proposal

Today Senate Republicans released their education funding proposal for FY 2021.

“This proposal will provide $91.7 million in new funding for K -12 education. The total increase in K-12 funding will be more than 300 million new dollars since FY 2017. That record stands in stark contrast to the days of overpromising and underdelivering during Democrat control of state government. They promised hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending only to cut K-12 funding by $65 million,” said Senator Jack Whitver, R – Ankeny. “Senate Republicans have fully funded every K-12 education funding promise we have made each year in the majority.”

“Funding proposed this year will complete our promise to eliminate the disparity in education funding for schools with transportation costs higher than the statewide average,” said Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton. “We began this process in the first year of the majority and we have kept our word to rural districts to get them on equal footing with those districts with lower transportation costs. It also addresses one of the most pressing issues in K-12 education by addressing violent student behavior in the classroom.” 

This amount of funding demonstrates a commitment to education. It is responsible and sustainable and it demonstrates that education is a top priority of Senate Republicans. Senate Republicans education proposals provide a $75.7 million increase in supplemental state aid, $7.7 million in new funding for transportation inequity, $5.8 million to address per pupil inequity, and $2.5 million to address violent student behavior (SSB 3080) for a total of $91.7 million. 

Predictable, responsible, sustainable funding for Iowa schools has yielded results. Iowa students are #1 in high school graduation rate, #1 in concurrent enrollment and #1 in average ACT scores.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver’s Opening Remarks 2020

Below are the opening remarks of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver as prepared for delivery.

Good morning Mister President, Minority Leader Petersen, and my colleagues in the Senate.

It is exciting to be back and ready to work for another legislative session. This will be my second full session as the majority leader in this chamber, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the members we have here and what we have accomplished so far, with more exciting changes to come. It truly is a great time to be an Iowan.

Iowa has more job openings right now than unemployed people to fill them. One of our challenges as legislators is to help people get the right skills to fill those jobs, with the education and training they need to succeed. We want people to be able to work and be productive members of our society, changing both their own lives and the lives of their family forever.

We’ve seen more dollars in the classroom for schools, reliable, sustainable spending each of the last three years. Every funding promise we have made to K-12 education, we have fully funded. Those promises are yielding results. Iowa has the highest high school graduation rate, highest average ACT score, and the highest rate of concurrent enrollment in the country.

The state budget, when we took the majority, had a deficit over $100 million, but now it has a surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars. According to Forbes, Iowa is one of only a few states in America with a truly balanced budget, a budget surplus, instead of deficit. Iowa has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, and it is rated one of the top states for opportunity.

All these positive results did not happen by accident. They happened with the methodical and purposeful implementation of pro-growth policies: Policies to conservatively manage the state budget. Policies to make it easier to do business in Iowa. Policies to fully fund our commitments to education. And policies to reduce the tax burden, so Iowans can keep more of what they earn.

But we still have a long way to go in our race to be the best state in the country. We passed the largest tax cut in Iowa’s history. It was a huge reform package, and now that we are a few years into that plan, we are starting to see some of the results and benefits. And more needs to be done. We want to continue to reduce those rates to bring our state from the back of the pack to one of the states with the lowest rates. We can continue to do more to simplify and make taxes lower, fairer, and more efficient. But the ultimate goal is to ensure the people who work hard for their money are getting to keep more of it. 

We implemented Future Ready Iowa last year to help address the skills gap, but work remains to be done to encourage those able-bodied Iowans on public assistance programs to join the workforce. A workforce that needs them to fill some of the 50,000 open jobs in our state. 

At the end of the day, our goal is to implement policies that provide an opportunity for success for every human being who has chosen to call our state home, while cultivating an environment here to attract people outside Iowa to call our state home. We should be fixing the broken systems that hinder a person’s chance of being successful.

An old Latin proverb reads, “fortune favors the bold.” I want to urge my colleagues to continue to seek out bold solutions to improving this state. We have pursued a bold agenda and the results speak for themselves. If we don’t take this chance to make big changes to how our state runs, should we even be here? Bold change is the legacy I want to leave and if we continue to pursue those reforms, it will be how we are remembered.

As we continue to build that legacy here, we want to make sure we are focused on policy we believe is right and will move our state forward. We will continue to challenge the status quo and implement bold reforms.

What I like most about my colleagues and this chamber is that we work from the ground up. We work on the issues important to our constituents, their families, and our communities. And the most important part of this is, we want our time here to be meaningful. We want to make changes that aren’t just going to fix a problem for a year or two. We want the laws we pass to make positive changes for generations to come. We have the opportunity here to really change people’s lives for the better and improve the environment for them to succeed. 

Now, let’s get to work!

Senate President Charles Schneider’s Opening Remarks 2020

Senate President Charles Schneider’s opening day remarks as prepared.

Good morning and welcome to the second session of the 88th General Assembly.

As I said last session, I am honored to serve as President of the Iowa Senate. I appreciate the trust you have placed in me, and I will work hard every day to fulfill the obligations of this office.

Every year, fifty senators from different parts of the state gather in this chamber. We have different backgrounds. We represent different constituencies. We are from different generations. But we share a common goal – to make Iowa an even better state in which to live, work, and raise a family. I want to thank each of you for your service to our great state. I look forward to working with you in the weeks ahead.

We begin this session with our state in a strong fiscal position. As a result of responsible budgeting during the last three sessions, our reserve accounts are full, and we have a significant budget surplus. 

In times like this, there is pressure to spend. While there are places where new investments make sense, it’s important for us to remember that we are spending taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers expect us to spend responsibly. And if the state receives more revenue than is necessary to fund generally agreed-upon priorities, those same taxpayers expect us to return the surplus to them. 

The conventional wisdom among the press corps, political pundits, and even some legislators, is that it is not possible to accomplish big things during the session immediately preceding an election. I reject this notion outright. In fact, we passed the largest income tax cut in state history just two years ago during an election year. We even adjourned after our per diem days had expired.

The reality is that the challenges we face do not wait for a non-election year to confront us. We face them every year we are in session. Chief among them this session is the shortage of skilled workers in our state. This stifles our economic growth and keeps us from reaching our full potential. We must make Iowa a more attractive destination for talent.

Iowa has a lot to offer individuals, families, and businesses. We have an outstanding education system, an educated workforce, a strong work ethic, low unemployment, outdoor recreational opportunities, and friendly people.

Those advantages alone, however, have not been enough to train, keep, and recruit as many people as we need to fuel our growing economy. There is more we can do.

First, we can improve our tax climate. We know a state’s tax climate can attract people. It can also drive them away. According to the Tax Foundation, Iowa ranks 42nd in business tax climate. The income tax cut bill we passed two years ago has improved our ranking, and it will continue to improve as the bill phases in over time. Still, it is a barrier to growth and an area where we must improve. The more we can lower income taxes, the sooner Iowans will be able to pay off student loans, buy a home, start a family, save for their children’s education, or put aside money for retirement.

Second, we can remove barriers to work. Excessive occupational licensing is the proverbial government red tape of our era. Unelected bureaucrats should not impede people who move to Iowa from working in an occupation for which they were licensed in their home state. If someone who moves to Iowa is a doctor, electrician or other licensed professional, whether they come from Boston or Bangladesh, Iowa should welcome them to the workforce as quickly as possible.

Finally, we can improve how our assistance programs work. Our programs should promote work and career development. Unfortunately, for Iowans receiving childcare benefits, that is not always the case. Far too often, I have heard from constituents and business leaders who say people turn down opportunities to advance in their careers because they risk losing their childcare benefits. This is unacceptable. We need to find a way to reform this benefit to allow people receiving it to have a better shot at their American dream.

While the shortage of skilled workers is a major challenge for us this session, it is not the only one we face. We must continue to find opportunities to position rural Iowa to compete in the 21st Century. We must continue to improve access to mental health services. 

These and other issues we will address this session are big challenges, but that does not mean they are insurmountable. We can achieve great things for our fellow Iowans if we work together. 

I wish everyone in this chamber, including the staff, clerks, and pages, a happy, healthy, and productive legislative session. I look forward to working with all of you to make our state an even better place. 

God bless you all, and God bless the great state of Iowa.

Senator Sinclair Releases Statement Following Government Oversight

Today, Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, issued the following statement regarding today’s Senate Government Oversight Committee meeting reviewing the burglaries of the Polk and Dallas County Courthouses.

“I appreciate the time from elected officials and staff of Dallas and Polk Counties as well as members of the Iowa Judicial Branch. Today’s meeting was informative and enlightening. I was pleased to hear Chief Justice Cady offer an apology for diminishing the public trust and his commitment to ensure similar incidents never happen again.

The Judicial Branch’s hiring of an out of state vendor to break into county courthouses on September 11 created significant danger, not only to the contractors, but to local law enforcement, and members of the public. Additionally, the Judicial Branch seems unable to address the inconsistencies whether or not physical break in was expected or authorized. Upon the conclusion of the ongoing investigations, I look forward to receiving more information regarding these incidents and the processes put in place to ensure a similar incident does not occur.”

Senate Oversight Committee to Review Courthouse Security Breaches

Today, the Chair of the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee, Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, announced the committee would convene a meeting to review the Judicial Branch’s handling of the recent attempts to invade the Polk and Dallas County Courthouses. 

“Iowans have a number of questions regarding the rationale, execution, and explanation of the attempts to break into these county courthouses,” said Senator Sinclair. “The Senate will perform its oversight role to search for answers about how these staged burglaries improve the provision of services to Iowans by the Judicial Branch.”

The meeting will be held in Room 116 in the Iowa Capitol. A date and time for the meeting will be announced soon.

Senator Whitver Announces Committee Assignments

Today, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, released committee assignments for members of the Iowa Senate Majority for the Eighty-Eighth General Assembly.

The standing committees assignments are:

Appropriations
Senator Breitbach – Chair
Senator Kraayenbrink – Vice Chair
Senator Greene
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Garrett
Senator Costello
Senator Lofgren
Senator Shipley
Senator Guth
Senator Johnson
Senator Koelker
Senator Miller-Meeks
Senator Schneider

Agriculture
Senator Zumbach – Chair
Senator Sweeney – Vice Chair
Senator Brown
Senator Edler
Senator Shipley
Senator Kapucian
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Costello

Commerce
Senator Chapman – Chair
Senator Koelker – Vice Chair
Senator Brown
Senator Dawson
Senator Sinclair
Senator Breitbach
Senator Miller-Meeks
Senator Feenstra
Senator Johnson
Senator Smith
Senator Nunn

Continue reading Senator Whitver Announces Committee Assignments

Senate Republicans Reelect Whitver, Schneider to Lead Caucus

Senate Republicans reelected Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, as Majority Leader and Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, as President of the Iowa Senate for the 88th General Assembly.

“Thank you to my fellow Republican Senators for their continued trust in my leadership. It is an honor to receive their unanimous support for Majority Leader of the Iowa Senate,” said Whitver. “On Tuesday Iowans voted to continue the bold agenda we delivered over the last two years and we will not let them down. Our caucus will continue to deliver bold policy reforms to improve career opportunities, make sure Iowans keep more of their hard earned money, and to maintain Iowa’s status as the best state in the country.”

Whitver was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. He was chosen by Senate Republicans to preside over the Senate as President in 2016 and became Majority Leader in 2018. On Tuesday he was reelected to a four year team to represent Ankeny, Alleman and a portion of northeast Des Moines in the Iowa Senate. He resides in Ankeny with his wife, Rachel and their three children.

“Senate Republicans are excited to get back to work,” Senate President Charles Schneider said. “We believe Iowans recognize that the policies adopted during the last two years are working to improve the lives of people in our state. I am excited to work with my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the House and Governor Reynolds to continue to pass pro-growth policies and cement Iowa’s place as the best state in the nation.”

Schneider lives in West Des Moines with his wife Lisa. He was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012 to represent West Des Moines and Waukee. He was elected President of the Senate in 2018.

The Republican leadership team consists of the following Senators:

  • Majority Leader, Senator Jack Whitver, Ankeny
  • President of the Senate, Senator Charles Schneider, West Des Moines
  • President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Senator Jerry Behn, Boone
  • Majority Whip, Senator Amy Sinclair, Allerton
  • Assistant Majority Leaders
    • Senator Randy Feenstra, Hull
    • Senator Jake Chapman, Adel
    • Senator Waylon Brown, St. Ansgar
    • Senator Dan Zumbach, Ryan

Closing Remarks from Senate President Charles Schneider

Senate President Charles Schneider’s closing remarks as prepared

Senators, guests, fellow Iowans,

I would like to start by saying it is a great honor to serve as president and presiding officer of this body. The Iowa Senate is a made up of some of the best people our state has to offer. Each Senator in this chamber worked hard this legislative session to represent their communities to the rest of the state. Today, the legislative session ends and we return to the “citizen” part of being a citizen legislator. We return to towns like Council Bluffs, Dubuque, and Independence, proud to have done our part to serve our constituents.

Each of us ran for election to the Iowa Senate for our own reasons. But we share a common goal – to make Iowa the best state in America to live, work, and raise a family.

One of the main reasons I ran for office was to transform our state from one that continues to lose people and wealth to other states into one that is a magnet for both jobs and the people to fill that demand.

This session, we made great strides toward achieving this goal by passing the most significant tax reform in the history of our state.

The opportunity to overhaul our tax code does not come around often. So we aimed high. Our goals were to simplify our tax code, modernize it for a 21st century economy, make our state more competitive, and allow Iowans to keep more of their own money. I am proud to say the reforms offered by the Senate Republican caucus delivered on these goals.

The tax relief bill we passed provides $2 billion in tax cuts over the next six years. Once fully implemented, it will drive down rates for individuals, farmers, and employers. It will make it easier and less time consuming for the average Iowan to file a tax return. It will improve our ability to compete against other states for economic development opportunities. And, it creates more upside opportunity for entrepreneurs who leave their job to start a business, agree to take over their family farm, or commit their life savings to take on their dream venture.

Tax reform is a win for Iowans and I’m proud the Senate Republican caucus delivered.

In addition to serving as the President of the Senate, I am proud to serve as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Iowa’s state government should thoughtfully consider every dollar it spends. Iowans expect that of us. This year, we passed a budget that is both responsible and funds our priorities.

Iowans across our state get up early, work long hours, and sacrifice their time and talent for benefit of their families and their communities. Iowans work hard for every dollar they make, every penny they earn. The very least we in this building can do is be good stewards of the dollars they send to the state.

In November 2016, Iowans decided they were tired of business as usual. They voted for a change. They voted for an Iowa where people have more money in their pockets. They voted for an Iowa where the laws of the state reflect the values of its citizens.

Our plan a year and a half ago was no secret. And, our goal four months ago was no different. Our objective was as simple as it was audacious – to make Iowa the best state in America.

This was not going to be just another General Assembly. I am proud to be a part of the most consequential General Assembly in the modern history of our state. Though our work is not done, I am confident the bills we passed this session will make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Before we adjourn, I would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy and prosperous summer. Thank you for your hard work on behalf of your constituents and our state. God bless you and your families. And, God bless the great state of Iowa.

Closing Remarks from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver’s closing remarks as prepared

President Schneider, Senate Minority Leader Petersen, colleagues and friends, I stand before you very proud that we honored the bold commitments we envisioned at the start of this Legislative Session.

We came together to ease the tax burdens on hard-working Iowans, provided new access to affordable healthcare for Iowans in need of coverage, enhanced our mental health system, made steps to continue improving our water quality, work toward developing and expanding our skilled workforce and maintained our commitment to revitalize rural Iowa.

On a personal note I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement this Legislative Session. I delivered my opening remarks as the Senate President and today deliver closing comments as a Senate Majority Leader, who is proud of our caucus for their dedicated commitment to their constituents, the state of Iowa and their fellow Senators. Despite challenges that we encountered this session, they remained focused and did not lose sight of why they are here – to do the people’s work.

Colleagues, we adjourn today able to go home to our districts and tell our constituents we kept our word, honored our commitment to them and produced historic results that will help our state forge a path of success for future generations. That starts with tax reform.

Tax reform is something we stood up to talk about for years during our time in the minority, and pledged to accomplish when given the opportunity to govern in the majority. I am proud of the tireless dedication of Senate Republicans to see through with this promise.

We never wavered on our commitment on making tax reform happen. This is something Senate Republicans and I spoke about repeatedly during my entire time at the Capitol. When it came to giving hard-working Iowans a tax break, we did not stand up to speak to hear ourselves talk.

We rose to speak because we believe this is necessary. We spoke about this passionately because we want to see our great state grow. We stood up for those whose pleas for help fell on deaf ears for nearly two decades. Simply put, we made our vision a reality to lend a helping hand to an overwhelming majority of Iowans, and unleash limitless opportunities for years to come.

Iowa families deserve to have more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. Though it took 20 years to fulfill our pledge, we leave here today able to say we accomplished what we set out to do this General Assembly.

On the first day of this 87th General Assembly, I encouraged my colleagues to think big and act boldly. I knew if we dared to dream big the legislation we passed would positively impact our state and set the course for an economic revival in Iowa. We came here every day with the goal of keeping our word to the voters who sent us here. Promises made, promises kept.

Passing tax reform is a giant step in that economic revival as it plays a significant role in helping us compete with neighboring states. This bold initiative not only helps draw new people into our state, but it also rewards hard-working Iowans by providing them with more resources to prosper and live comfortably in their communities.

Over the last two years, we worked to expand our workforce, strengthen our economy, rejuvenate our Ag industry, ease the tax burdens on Iowans, create financial stability for our rural communities and school districts, and provide students with a top-notch education. As we bring a close to this 87th General Assembly, I stand before you proud of the work we have accomplished on behalf of Iowans. Though we did not always see eye to eye on policy; it is hard to argue the positive results that it generated for the future of the state we love.

We can all agree that Iowa is the best state in the country. Now, people outside of Iowa are beginning to understand what we have known for years.

My friends, we find ourselves at a defining moment in our great state. We can make the decision to go backward and hope better days lie ahead, or we can put our strong Iowa work ethic to the test to continue forging a path for economic growth and prosperity.  We have made great strides in the last two years, but our work is far from finished. Senate Republicans remain committed to finishing what we came here to do: Improving our business climate, making education a priority and working to create new career opportunities across this great state.

In closing, I want to thank my Senate Republican colleagues, Senator Petersen, the Senate Democrats, the Senate Republican and Democrat caucus staffs for putting in so many hours researching bills and helping to keep us informed, the staff in my office, staff in the Senate President’s office, the Secretary of the Senate and his hard-working people and the sergeant at arms, our door keepers, Randy Wallace and everyone who makes a Legislative Session successful. It is an honor to work with all of you.

It’s a great day to be an Iowan; let’s work to make tomorrow even better. Thank you.

Floor Remarks from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Comments from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver as prepared for delivery are below.

Thank you Mr. President.

Friends and colleagues, I rise today to say thank you for the honor to serve as President of the Iowa Senate for the past year and a half. I am proud to be fair and impartial as I presided over this body.

Today, I rise to speak in a new role. I want to thank my colleagues for the confidence to help lead our Republican caucus going forward as Senate Majority Leader.

Though the office, title, and responsibility have changed – the goal has not.

I ran for office 7 years ago to make Iowa a better place. I wanted to be a part of a new group of leaders who were willing to look beyond the next election, and look to the next generation.

As a father of three young children, I have only one agenda. It is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is an Iowa agenda. It is one that ensures our kids and our grandkids have more opportunities than we have had.

I know all of us – regardless of party – have the same goal for Iowa – to be the best state in the nation! Though we may differ on that path – we cannot disagree on the result. We have made a tremendous amount of progress!

As we all know, Iowa was recently ranked Number 1 in the US News overall state ranking.  We rank Number 1 in infrastructure,  Number 3 in healthcare  and Number 5 in education.

While we have made great strides, there is always room for improvement. We must continue to promote and pass policies that make Iowa a place where our residents want to stay, work and raise their families as well as be a place to entice future Iowans to call home.

I look forward to a seamless transition as we continue work on our priorities. I look forward to passing a tax reform bill that reduces taxes on hard-working Iowans. I look forward to passing a Future Ready Iowa bill to ensure we have a workforce prepared for the 21st century. I look forward to passing a fiscally sound and balanced budget in the coming weeks. And, I am extremely excited to continue our goal of making Iowa the most job-friendly state in the nation.

As a former football player – I often heard it is much easier to get to the top than to stay there. I challenge this body to continue to make the tough choices necessary to stay at Number 1!

Thank you again for the confidence to lead, and I look forward to working with each and every one of you to ensure Iowa remains a model for 49 other states to follow!