Senator Bill Dix’s 2016 Session Closing Remarks

Thank you Madame President.

When session began this year I commented on the need for state government to be fiscally prudent and instill the kind of fiscal discipline into the state budget that Iowa families put into their own budgets. Now, nearly five months later, it is time to evaluate the results of this session.

Budgeting is simply a matter of revenues and expenditures. For the State of Iowa, revenues have been strong during the last four years. Revenues grew by nearly $589 million from FY13 to the estimates for FY 17. Unfortunately, for Iowa taxpayers, expenditures increased by nearly $1 billion during that same time period. When the state closed its books at the end of FY 13, the ending balance was $927 million. With the passage of this year’s appropriation bills, the ending balance projects to be approximately $80 million. The data regarding the state budget is clear; Iowa government does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.

Iowa families know that they cannot spend more than they take in for very long. Ultimately, that credit card bill comes due. As I just illustrated the state budget has been growing at a pace that exceeds revenue. Sadly, this behavior isn’t limited to just the general fund. For years the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget has been raided for all sorts of projects. Now, the state’s existing vertical infrastructure cannot be maintained because, between the ill-fated I-Jobs program and other bonding commitments, the first $70 million per year is already committed to bond repayments.

So, what do some in this body propose? This headline from last week in the Cedar Rapids Gazette summarizes it well: “Senate Includes Borrowing in Infrastructure Budget.” According to the article the proposal would further indebt Iowa for $110 million. The disease is overspending and according to some the cure is…more spending!

My colleagues and I are concerned about spending growth for the simple reason that when government grows, the private sector shrinks. When the private sector shrinks, opportunity for young Iowans either disappears, or it moves to Kansas City, Austin, or Indianapolis.

I believe Iowa has all the necessary ingredients for a period of dynamic economic growth. I am optimistic when I think about Iowa’s future and the possibilities young Iowans have in front of them. Iowa has some of the most productive farm land in the world, a citizenry that is hard-working and engaged, and, of course, only the finest bacon.

Opportunities to invest and succeed are important and when this body throws up barriers to growth, whether that is excessive regulation or excessive taxation, we only hurt our own children and grandchildren. Senate Republicans advocate for policies that encourage economic growth, that remove barriers that inhibit growth and that incentivize work and investment. The more government gets out of the way, and the more of their own money Iowans keep, the more Iowa’s economy will grow.

As some of you know my oldest son is graduating from high school next month. I want Iowa to be a viable option for his future because career opportunities are available. We need to leave a legacy of opportunity for every Iowan.

Let’s make it happen!

Senator Dix’s 2016 Opening Day Remarks

January 11, 2016

Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix’s opening day remarks as prepared.

Thank you Madam President.

The memory of the last winter storm remains fresh in our minds as it blanketed much of Iowa with snow and ice two weeks ago. Prior to the storm, many Iowans flocked to the stores to ensure they had milk, bread and other necessities. Iowans understand the importance of being prepared when such a storm strikes.

Iowans expect the same sense of preparedness from their elected officials. Senate Republicans have called for such action and it has fallen upon deaf ears in this chamber. For the past several years, I have stood here – in this spot on the opening day of the legislative session – and stressed the seriousness of getting our state spending under control. Senate Republicans have long warned, if we do nothing to curb the appetite to spend the money of hard-working Iowans there would be consequences. Senate Republicans predicted a financial storm was coming unless we changed these reckless spending habits. Colleagues, this storm is no longer on the horizon. We are in the eye of the storm – seeking shelter is not an option.

This is a problem which requires action, and more important – leadership. Leadership is not pointing fingers, raising our voices or grandstanding with the intentions of questioning someone’s integrity. It is about rolling up our sleeves, working together to get to the crux of the matter and providing a solution. As we have witnessed repeatedly in the last several years, when state cost-cutting measures were proposed they faced great resistance. The burden of leadership is making tough choices that fly in the face of what some may want because it is the right thing to do. One of those solutions is to quench that never-ending thirst to overspend the people’s money. It is time to lead. This is what Iowans expect and demand from their elected officials.

Do not fool yourselves; Iowans are watching and fully understand the challenges we face. Ask the farmer who took a loss on last year’s corn crop. Reach out to a northwest Iowa poultry producer devastated by last spring’s avian flu. Talk to a small business owner who struggles to make ends meet due to increasing health care costs and rising tax burdens.

We must face some undeniable facts. State revenues continue to come in below projections. The Ag economy is not as stable as in recent years due to lagging livestock and commodity prices. We also were dealt a significant blow last spring when the avian flu ravaged that sector of the economy. Colleagues, all of these factors affect Iowa’s state budget.

Senate Republicans will continue to stress the importance of controlled spending and treat our state budget as we do our family budget – which means we must not spend more than we receive. It is vital we do not overpromise only to under deliver.

We will discuss education at great lengths this legislative session – and we should. We must ensure we keep our promises and budget responsibly when it comes to education. There is too much at stake for our children and taxpayers if we fail to honor those commitments. Keeping our word to students and educators is essential.

It would be a disservice to our youth and businesses across the state if we do not offer them the means to compete in a global economy. Remember colleagues, the vehicle that drives the world economy is fueled locally, whether that is in Harlan, Shell Rock or Red Oak.  It is essential to give job creators in our rural communities and all across Iowa the tools necessary to have a presence in a world marketplace, and then get out of their way so they can succeed.

Though the last winter storm may be a memory, the financial storm we face remains a present and constant concern. I ask you today to work with Senate Republicans to weather this storm. Together, we can accomplish great things in creating a legacy of opportunity for all Iowans and making our great state even stronger.  Let’s Make it Happen!



Happy Small Business Week 2015

“I love the flexibility and setting my own schedule. And, I am ultimately responsible for the success of my own business.” — Tim Kraayenbrink, Kraayenbrink Financial Services

“I enjoy the creativity working for yourself provides, leveraging your own strengths and chasing your own goals. At the end of the day, it’s hard, but very rewarding.” — Rick Bertrand, local commercial developer

“The harder I work, the more potential I have and my business has. It’s the American Dream. I like the independence – becoming a small business owner is the best decision I’ve ever made.” — Brad ZaunZaun’s Trustworthy Hardware

“Our business is family-owned and it is great working with my family and such wonderful employees each day, knowing we are the best part of someone’s worst day and helping them when they’re in need. It’s a very rewarding experience helping out my neighbors, friends, family and community.”— Jake Chapman, family-owned private ambulance service

“For me, what’s great about owning a small business is it allows you to provide a good or service to people in an area you are passionate about. Though business ownership is extremely rewarding, it’s also very demanding and risky. I will always have a great deal of respect and admiration for anyone who takes on that challenge.” — Jack Whitver, Acceleration Iowa

“I enjoy interaction with employees, clients and customers. It’s like having an extended family; the relationships we building are long-lasting. Being in business for 31 years, you build a lot of relationship you may not have foreseen.” — Michael Breitbach, Trans Star Trucking and Swales Precast Inc.

“Owning a small business and making wheelchair parts for the disabled, allows me to help solve problems, employ hard-working Iowans and contribute to the economic growth in my community.” —Mark Chelgren, Frog Legs, Inc. 

No Place Like Home: Senate District 38

Senator Tim Kapucian, from Keystone, Iowa, has been a consistent voice for agriculture since being elected to represent Senate District 38.TK3-16-15

Senator Kapucian’s home district is mostly rural with several larger rural communities, or as he says, “Mostly rural with neat little twists,” including Vinton, Belle Plaine, Marengo, Williamsburg and Grinnell.

Brownells, the world’s largest gun parts and accessories supplier, is based in this district. Brownells’ first catalog was distributed in 1947 and the business has been growing ever since.

Another great Iowa based business in Senator Kapucian’s district is Kinzean agricultural equipment company based in Williamsburg, which got its start in 1965.

Grinnell is located on the far west side of the district and is known as the “Jewel of the Prairie.” The Merchants National Bank Buildingone of eight “jewel box banks,” sits in downtown Grinnell and was designed by Louis Sullivan. The term “jewel box” refers to the simplistic design of the building while securing the inside content, like a jewelry box.

Also in this town of more than 9,000 is Grinnell College, founded in 1846.

Senator Kapucian’s district is also home to the well-known Amana Colonies.

The colonies are a group of seven German villages They have become a big tourist destination, known for their woodwork and wine shops.

Belle Plaine has undergone a series of Main Street renovations, especially with the Belle Plaine museum and the Henry B. Tippie annex.

“It really rejuvenates the area, making it a nice shopping area for visitors with a small town experience,” Senator Kapucian said.

Belle Plaine also happens to hold the “eighth wonder of the world” – Jumbo, the artesian well.

In 1886, a well being drilled shot water up 53 feet in the air, spitting out thousands of gallons of water, eventually taking 14 months to contain.

“This district is very agriculture-oriented,” Senator Kapucian said. “From manufacturing to livestock and traditional farm production, this area plays a major role in the state’s economy.

“I ran for office because I wanted to support agriculture, the occupation of my father, grandfather, and countless families throughout Senate District 38. Agriculture needs a voice at the Statehouse and I am proud to be that voice.”

No Place Like Home: Senate District 28

Senator Michael Breitbach calls his district the gateway to the beautiful hill country.

“My district is where the flat lands and prairie meet the hills of northeast Iowa,” Senator Breitbach said. “It runs along the Fayette and Clayton county line. Once you get to that area, everything south and west of Strawberry [Point] pretty much flattens out. Everything north and east is all hills. It looks completely different than what most people think of when they think of Iowa.”

SONY DSCSenator Breitbach’s home, Strawberry Point, Iowa, is located in Senate District 28, along with a number of historical buildings, businesses, and of course, the “World’s Largest Strawberry.” This strawberry welcomes you to Strawberry Point City Hall, measuring 15 feet tall and 12 feet across. It weighs in at 1,500 pounds.

“Decorah is another beautiful town with many historical buildings,” Senator Breitbach said. One of those buildings is Hotel Winneshiek, originally constructed from 1904-1905. In April 2000 it reopened after extensive renovations.

“It really is something you have to see to truly appreciate,” Senator Breitbach said.

A little south of Decorah is the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville. Two brothers, Joseph and Frank Bily, started carving clocks in 1913. These clocks often depicted cultural, historical or religious scenes, some standing over 9 feet tall. The brothers never sold any despite offers they received. Their collection was donated to the museum after their passing.

Festina, Iowa, a small town outside of Deocrah, is home to  St. Anthony of Padua Chapel, the world’s smallest church.

Senate District 28 is also home to Effigy Mounds, a national monument stretching across Allamakee and Clayton counties. The prehistoric animal-shaped mounds built by Native Americans are believed to have many different meanings, such as seasonal observances, celestial events or boundary markers.

“We always have been active in our community. I spent time as a council member and my wife was the mayor,” Senator Breitbach said. “I wanted the opportunity to give back for all of the good things our family has enjoyed here. I thought running for office was a great way to do that.”

Senator Breitbach has served 30 years as a volunteer fireman, 22 years as a volunteer EMT, 20 years as a Boy Scout leader, as well as serving on many other boards and positions in the city.

“Each district is really different and I’m proud to represent the one I call home.”

No Place Like Home: Get to Know Senate District 48

SONY DSC“I take great pleasure in serving my constituents and our rural communities at the Statehouse,” said Senator Dan Zumbach. Senator Zumbach is from Ryan, Iowa, and represents Senate District 48.  “Our district is unique and it is an honor to represent it.”

Backbone State Park is located in Senate District 48. It is the first state park in Iowa. It received its name from the narrow and steep ridge of bedrock – the “Devil’s Backbone.”

The small town of Anamosa also is what inspired many of Grant Woods‘ paintings. He is most famous for his American Gothic painting.

“My district has 17 school districts and 21 small-town parades,” Zumbach said. “I always try to get to as many as I can, but 21 is quite a bit, some with three or four a day!”

“I was frustrated with the over-regulation by government that was happening, so I thought, ‘We need to find someone who can fix this,'” Zumbach said. “After searching for a while, my family started to say, ‘Why don’t you run?’ They thought I had the family values and business experience that would represent this district well.

“I thought seriously about the question they posed, and I remember thinking, ‘I’m just a farmer, how can I make a difference?’ I went to the county central committee to figure out how to start, then the process began, and here I am.”

To learn more about Dan Zumbach and sign up for his newsletter, visit his page.

Love Blossoms in the Iowa Senate

Making the decision to run for public office requires the support of loved ones. Three Senate Republicans get to work closely with their spouse on a daily basis to fight for every hard-working family in Iowa.

Brad and Dede Zaun


Dede and Brad have been married for eight years.

“He proposed to me on Halloween,” Dede said. “He rented a horse, dressed up like a knight and came galloping up to my house.

“I didn’t know what he was doing, so I said, ‘This is the greatest Halloween costume ever!’ and then he got down on one knee and proposed.”

Dede enjoys experiencing everything at the Capitol with her husband and all the work involved.

“Session usually takes us away from our families a lot, but we get to experience it together,” Brad said. “She helps me very much and makes me look good. I don’t call her my clerk – we work together.”

Dennis and Margaret Guth


Margaret and Dennis met in high school through church and have been married since 1978.

Margaret says this is the first real chance they have had to work together since she was a “city girl and he farms.”

“I have a great appreciation for what happens at the Capitol,” Margaret said.

“She provides tremendous encouragement,” Dennis said. “She knows me better than anyone. There is no one better to sit beside me, ask their opinion and represent me here.

“I think being here together helps build unity in our marriage, because she’s here experiencing it all with me.”

Julian and Nancy Garrett


Nancy and Julian have been married for eight years.

“I may be the only legislator with a lawyer for a clerk,” Julian said. “She helps me with researching bills along with all the day-to-day activities.”

“I enjoy working here and having the opportunity to see what Julian does every day, how good he is at it, how well he represents his constituents and how hard the job really is,” Nancy said. “I already admired and respected him. Working with him here really increases my respect and high regard for his abilities.”