Submitted by State Senator Jerry Behn
The 2012 session was supposed to be 100 days, which means session should have ended on Tuesday, April 17. That day has now come and gone.
That means legislators are no longer getting their daily expenses paid for, yet serious work remains.
However, there is a sense of optimism that adjournment is not far off and that Iowans will be able to see measurable results from their legislators.
Here’s a brief rundown on three of the big issues left:
A Balanced and Responsible Budget
Nearly all of the individual budget bills are in conference committees and the differences between Democrats and Republicans are narrowing.
Senate Republicans are holding true to our commitment to the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa that Iowa’s budget should not spend more dollars than our state takes in, should be balanced without raising taxes, should be free from the use of one-time dollars for ongoing expenses, should be transparent and should have money set aside for future needs.
Authentic and Aggressive Property Tax Relief
Negotiations are ongoing and Governor Branstad has made it crystal clear that he does not intend to have the Legislature leave Des Moines without a bill to make Iowa more competitive when it comes to property taxes.
We need property tax reform for all classes of property and we need relief that limits the shift from one class of property to another. In order to create more jobs in Iowa, we need property tax relief and Senate Republicans stand ready to help pass authentic reform.
World Class Education for Our Children
Education reform, like all of the budget bills, is headed to a bipartisan conference committee. The negotiators of this committee will need to see if an agreement can be forged between both parties and both chambers.
Senate Republicans remain hopeful that we will have meaningful education reform this session because we must make improvements in order to regain our standing as the nation’s leader in education.
If education reform is not addressed this session, it is an issue that Iowans need to continue to speak with the legislators about, because it is an issue that will not be going away any time soon.
Whether the session lasts a few more days or a few more weeks, progress is occurring and Senate Republicans remain committed to doing the job we were elected to do.
It is our hope that even as the session heads into overtime, the winners in the end will be the hardworking Iowa taxpayers who toil day in and day out to make their lives and those around them better.
As always, I want to hear from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at Jerry.Behn@legis.iowa.gov
Senate Republican Leader