From Rep. Linda Upmeyer –
Moments ago, we closed out the 2016 legislative session after spending 110 days in session. Here are the remarks that I gave to the members of the 86th General Assembly as we gaveled out for the year:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, thank you. Thank you for your time, patience and service.
A very special thanks to the 12 retirees this year. As you leave the Capitol today, please know all of us appreciate your commitment to Iowans in your district.
Thank you to the House Republican Leadership team: Matt, Joel, Walt, Jarad, John and Zach – you serve our caucus well and I appreciate the help each of provide.
Majority Leader Hagenow – it’s a little different sitting in that seat isn’t it? I am inspired by the work you put in on behalf of your constituents and our caucus each day. The results are clear and I thank you for your leadership and friendship.
Minority Leader Smith – thank you for working with us when you could.
Thank you to the leadership staff: Tony, Colin, Zach, Liddy and Terri.
And, in my opinion, the best caucus staff in the building – the House Republican Caucus staff: Jeff, Brad, Lew, Jason, Kristi, Amanda, Carrie, Brittany, Mackenzie and Monica. Thank you for your hard work and the timely and reliable information you provide day in and day out.
To Alex, who has sat by my side all session as the Speaker’s page, thank you for keeping me focused during debate and for all of your work this year. Thank you to the Ben as well, who is filling in for Alex today. All of our legislative pages have bright futures ahead.
Chief Clerk Boal, thank you to you and your staff. The work you all do is never given the amount of appreciation it deserves. Without all of you, this place would not operate efficiently.
Thank you to our LSA for all of your hard work. Especially the time and effort put in by each of you over these past few weeks.
And finally, a special thank you to Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and their team for their resolve and unwavering leadership during these last two years.
At the beginning of this session I was a bit surprised at the low expectations for the 2016 Legislature. After all, I was optimistic that folks could come together, find common ground and do the job the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa elected each of us to do.
If you were listening, the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa were very clear with their expectations for us. Don’t spend more than we have, keep your promises, find common ground – and don’t be like Washington, D.C. I am proud to say we followed through and listened to Iowans. For the sixth consecutive year, we have held firm on our budgeting principles which have allowed us to follow through on our commitments. Iowa families and businesses abide by these same common sense principles every day, and government should be no different.
It is always difficult in the immediate aftermath of a legislative session to have the perspective to look back and evaluate what was accomplished, but I’d like to briefly point out a couple of things.
We continued progress made by budgeting based on common sense principles. When faced with a tough question on taxes and coupling, we put the hardworking taxpayers first.
We invested in future jobs with the renewable chemical program. We took on the critical issues of human trafficking and opioid addiction and abuse. We turned a conversation about justice reform into substantive policy changes.
This chamber should always be proud of a session that results in a sound budget, good tax policy, and strategic investments.
Looking forward, we should look to reform the state’s tax code and make it more competitive with other states.
We should give parents a choice in the education of their children and look for ways to free the hands of educators in our public schools.
We should expand on the criminal justice reforms we achieved this year that focus efforts and resources on dangerous criminals rather than nonviolent offenders.
We should continue to encourage innovation in our high schools and community colleges to grow a highly skilled workforce that employers can depend on for the jobs of the future.
Finally, we should change the conversation from how much we are allowed to spend, to how much we should spend. We should value each and every dollar that the hardworking taxpayers send us each year.
If we can build upon the successes of this session and work towards these future goals, it would be a monumental step towards making Iowa the premier place to raise a family or grow a business.
Now, let’s return home and do what we do best. Spend time listening to our constituents, taking input, and planning what the next chapter might contain.
Thank you and God bless the State of Iowa.