(DES MOINES) The Iowa State Legislature gaveled in on Monday.
Greenfield Republican Representative Clel Baudler said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and Speaker Kraig Paulsen gave their opening statements and it looks like the focus of this session will be on property taxes, job creation, and education. Baudler said the budget will be another issue.
“Last year we made a big difference, instead of spending $1.18 for every dollar we took in, we’re now spending just under 97-cents for every dollar we are taking in, which is a huge achievement compared to what we were up against last year, which is what took so long, we were in the third longest session ever. So we hope that don’t happen again,” said Baudler.
Baudler said you may hear some people from the “other side of the aisle” talk about a billion dollar budget surplus… and Baudler said technically that might be correct.
“600-million of that is the one time cash reserves that you have maintain by law just so we can make our state payments on time and our Medicaid payments on time,” explained Baudler. “250-million is the one time ending balance and quite frankly, I tell you what, it would be irresponsible and short sided to spend those funds down for ongoing expenses, you just can’t do that unless you want to go backward and return to the bad budgeting practices that we’ve had at different times in the past.”
Baudler said something new this year is they had video camera’s installed in the House of Representatives and the public can log on to www.legis.iowa.gov to watch live streaming while they are in session. He said the House decided to do this to provide more transparency. Baudler said they received a $100,000 grant to install the cameras and the total cost out of the state budget will be $30,000.