Some closing remarks now that the House has finally adjourned on this session. What a wonderful experience! It was a great opportunity to meet and work with a great group of people. Lifelong friendships were started with people from many walks of lives, from both chambers and from both sides of the “aisle.”
When I was elected last fall, my priorities were to prioritize spending, have a smaller, more efficient government which taxes less, spends less and promotes an environment where private sector job creation flourishes. I realize there has been a lot of frustration at home about the perception that we were not moving fast enough to reach agreement on the many issues that divided us. The reason it took so long is because the majority in each chamber have very divergent views as to the philosophy of government and the level of spending. It was not until the Senate agreed to the $5.9 billion spending level, that the two sides finally began to resolve their differences. In the period of one week, both chambers, in a bipartisan manner, hammered out their agreement and passed the budget. Senior legislators commended us for our efforts in coming together and pushing through an affordable budget.
I recognize some of the frustration that was felt by those who thought our spending proposals were inadequate. However, as I have said before, we needed to exercise fiscal discipline and construct a budget that will be sustainable in the years to come. For the past eight years the state has spent more than it has taken in. Last year was the culmination of this practice with the spending of $650 million of federal one time monies to supplement our budget. This year that federal money disappeared, yet our constituents still wanted the services. In Medicaid money alone we used $450 million of General Fund money to backfill Medicaid, our health services for the poor.
The budget we passed this year meets the state mandated requirement to not exceed 99 percent of the money received last year and hopefully we will be able to replenish the funds that have been depleted by past administrations and have funds available for emergencies. With all the issues on the table at the federal level, I think it is wise to build reserves and spend cautiously. We hope to come back next year with the resources and the opportunity to address additional needs while still passing a budget we can afford. It just took a year of “dieting” to get us on the right track.
A big frustration this year was our inability to pass property tax reform. My fellow Representative, Tom Sands, who heads our Ways & Means appropriations subcommittee, worked very hard on designing a plan that the House felt would be very effective in reducing the property tax burden of all Iowans. It involved property tax relief for commercial property as well as reducing personal property taxes. The Senate had another version which would offer income tax credits to relieve the property tax burdens of small businesses. The two chambers could not come to agreement. We continue to have some of the highest commercial property taxes in the nation. Having discussed this issue for 30 years, we will be back next year to address this issue again. Iowans have earned meaningful and sustainable property tax relief.
I have recently received many emails regarding legislation related to the Casey Anthony acquittal in Florida. Many people are requesting legislation that would bring felony charges against parents who do not quickly report missing children. I’m confident this will be considered when we return to Des Moines next January.
It has been a pleasure to serve as your representative this session.
Brian Moore, a Republican from Zwingle, represents Iowa House District 25 in the Iowa Legislature.