Because of the deepening national recession, this was a year of tough decisions. In the end, however, we balanced the state budget without raising taxes, spent less money from the state’s general fund than we did last year, and put $441 million in the state’s rainy day fund.

Despite difficult times, our work this year will prepare Iowa for a stronger future. I’m proud of our efforts to grow Iowa’s economy, create good-paying jobs, and help unemployed Iowans get the skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy.

Communities across the state will see an increase in jobs, stepped up flood recovery, long-term economic improvements, enhanced quality of life and greater public safety.

Highlights of the session

• Fiscal responsibility in the form of a balanced budget that sets aside $441 million for rainy day funds.

• Economic recovery through a $715 million package — combined with federal stimulus funds — for transportation projects, public buildings, disaster recovery and prevention, wastewater and water improvements and initiatives on housing, energy and broadband access.

• Growing our energy economy by increasing our investment in the production of Iowa-grown energy, helping family farmers market their crops and making our state more energy independent.

• Rebuilding Iowa by helping communities recover from last year’s tornadoes and record-setting floods, while also investing in major flood-prevention measures.

• Continuing our health care reforms by providing health insurance to 30,000 currently uninsured Iowa kids in the next year.

• Increasing investment in Iowa’s public schools, including teacher quality, student achievement and affordable higher education.

• Protecting our kids through a smarter, tougher, safer sex offender law that gives law enforcement the power to keep dangerous predators away from schools, day care centers and other places children gather.

Over the next several months, I’ll continue looking for ways to make Iowa a better place to live, work and raise a family. Please contact me with your concerns and ideas at (563) 689-4523 or

Roger Stewart, a Democrat from Preston, is a member of the Iowa Senate representing District 13.

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