I will continue to visit with constituents to get their ideas for balancing the budget. At the same time, the State Government Reorganization Legislative Committee, as well as several legislative budget subcommittees, are expected to meet yet this fall to look for efficiencies and targeted spending reductions.
When the Legislature reconvenes in January, I will work with the Governor and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to make any needed adjustments to the current year’s budget, to protect public safety and maintain essential services and priorities, and to make sure we keep the budget in balance without raising taxes. As we proceed, I’ll need help from chairs of the budget subcommittees, particularly Rep. Lisa Heddens of Ames, chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee, and Rep. Todd Taylor of Cedar Rapids, chair of the Justice Budget Subcommittee, where public health and public safety programs are particularly vulnerable and will likely receive extra attention.
Some Positive Signs
Even in the midst of reduced revenue projections and deep budget cuts, there are some positive indicators that the recession may be bottoming-out. The state’s unemployment rate appears to be leveling-off, after 18 months of steadily increasing joblessness. (A recent report indicated that 4,400 jobs were created or retained in Iowa as a result of the federal stimulus funds.)
Iowa is one of only a handful of states that has received a “AAA” rating on its bonds over the past several years, and we’ve also retained a “AAA” rating for our honest budgeting practices. Despite tough economic times, Iowa officials reported a $1 million increase in economic impact from tourism. And a new report from CNN Money ranked three Iowa Cities - Ames, Des Moines, and Dubuque - among the best in the nation to launch a small business. Iowa remains second in the nation in wind energy production and a new report from the Federation of Tax Administrators ranks Iowa’s per-person tax burden in the bottom third of states.
Pat Murphy is the Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives. He is serving his ninth term representing Dubuque. Before serving as Speaker, Rep. Murphy spent three years as Democratic Leader and nine years as the top-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
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