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!