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From the Desk of Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer – May 27, 2011

As we celebrate the Memorial Day weekend we are also usually heralding in the beginning of summer. Instead, we continue to work to adjourn this legislative session. |From Rep. Linda Upmeyer

As we celebrate the Memorial Day weekend we are also usually heralding in the beginning of summer. Instead, we continue to work to adjourn this legislative session. You may be asking why we have not finished. It would be easy to blame the lack of a budget agreement on differences in line items or policy provisions, but it would be misleading. What is unique about this session are the problems we face and the promise we made to Iowans.

Iowa’s economy is hurting and the recovery has been slow. Too many Iowans are out of work and are tired of watching an out-of-touch state government operate outside of the realities they face. With this in mind, House Republicans committed to important set of principles:

Put Iowans back to work

Cut government spending

Make it easier to be an employer in the state of Iowa

Reduce the size and scope of government

We will not spend more than we take in

At the start of the 2011 session, Republicans indicated that fiscal responsibility and economic certainity are keys to putting Iowa back on track and creating jobs. With that in mind, we approved legislation that provided broad-based tax relief. We toured the state to identify regulatory red tape that’s making it hard to create jobs. Our first bill contained multiple reforms to shrink government and save taxpayers over $500 million. These efforts have been largely rejected by Democrats.

We have committed to passing a budget that’s both honest and sustainable. While it wasn’t going to be easy, it’s what Iowans expect. We started with a nearly $1 billion hole to fill because previous budgets had underfunded commitments and used one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses.

When Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate released budgets in February, $147 million separated us. Negotiations began at that point.

After an entire session of joint budget meetings, we drilled down into the line items and spent three days with the Senate, working to identify and resolve differences in each budget area. We found agreement with the Governor and made an honest offer to close the $147 million difference by moving $101 million towards their position.

We received some disappointing news late Thursday when we learned that the Senate could not come back with a budget proposal on Friday as they had promised and that their leader would no longer be able to negotiate with us on behalf of their caucus. This is the breakdown in talks that we have worked hard to avoid but it will not stop me from coming in everyday to get our work done.

The entire budget disagreement boils down to this: Senate Democrats want to spend more money. In fact, the longer they are here the more they want to spend. Their own budgets blow past the targets they set for themselves. They want to continue the status quo and they appear ready to threaten a government shutdown to do so.

This is unnecessary and unproductive. We have plenty of time to do the job Iowans sent us here to do and reach an agreement that keeps your priorities in mind. We need to remain firm in the message of fiscal stability and responsibility. We need to keep the focus on growing our economy and creating opportunity. With Iowans in our corner, we will continue to stand by our principles and we will get this done.

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