This was a busy week…as I believe they all will be this session. I had visitors from United Way, La James, Habitat for Humanity, Mentoring, Hy-Vee, and the Board of Education, just to name a few!|This was a busy week…as I believe they all will be this session. I had visitors from United Way, La James, Habitat for Humanity, Mentoring, Hy-Vee, and the Board of Education, just to name a few! I also had a birthday Thursday and brought the entire House Kraft pudding cups…their newest products! This has become a tradition that began my first year here. Of course we had the usual committee meetings, caucuses, and debate.
Iowa’s unemployment has dropped from 6.6% to 6.3%, one of the lowest in the nation. A recent Pew Center report recognized Iowa as the second best fiscally managed state in the nation. Our non-partisan Legislative Services Agency has calculated that State surplus and rainy day funds amount to a POSITIVE $900 million. Also, for the 14th month in a row all economic indicators for Iowa are trending UP.
With all this positive information I am anxious to work for more job opportunities for hard working Iowa families, and to help support the education of young Iowans. So far this session we have not passed a bill to create any jobs and we have cut preschool for 20,000 children.
On Thursday morning newly elected Governor Branstad spoke to a joint meeting of the House and Senate. With our budget surplus and economic good news, I was hoping for an agenda focusing on hard-working Iowans. Instead he proposed no increase in funding for schools for the next two years, reducing access to preschool, and many other cuts to programs important to us all. The only winners today were big corporations that got a $200 million tax break, while middle class families, kids and small businesses were left behind.
The Governor’s budget is just the first step in our budgeting process which will conclude at the end of the session.
I am hopeful that in the weeks to come we can reach some kind of consensus to keep Iowa moving forward.