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!

 

 

Senate Republicans unanimously re-elect Senator Dix as leader

Des Moines – Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, and Senate Republican Whip Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, were unanimously re-elected to their respective leadership positions Monday at the State Capitol.

Senator Dix was first elected in 2012 as Senate Republican leader. Whitver served as the Senate Republican whip during the 2014 Legislative session.

“I am honored to have the continued support of our Senate Republican caucus,” Senator Dix said. “Senate Republicans will remain steadfast in fighting for fiscal responsibility, expanding new career opportunities and creating a legacy of opportunity for all Iowans.”

Senate Republicans also elected five assistant leaders Monday during their caucus. The assistant leaders for the 2015 Legislative session are: Senator Randy Feenstra, R-Hull; Senator Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City; Senator Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan; Senator Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone; and Senator Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines.

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