The end of the 2010 legislative session marks the end of my fifth term. This means I have sent out a “end-of-session” wrap-up letter five times.
One thing is abundantly clear at this point in time. We came into this session with a one billion dollar spending gap, and will leave with the same spending gap. Even though the revenue in December came in negative figures, and the March estimate is only slightly in the positive, this budget promises to be the second largest ever. All indications are that $175 million will be put on property taxes as a result of shifts from state spending to property tax payers. $732 million will come from one time revenue sources. This creates a huge problem for the legislature coming in January 2012.
The last two budget bills that passed out of the legislature spent $72 M in the last four days. This is spending that did not get vetted through the normal appropriations process and much of it is pork ie “earmarks” spending. All the attention that was given to the government reorganization bill was a waste because more money was spent in four days then what was saved in this bill.
One of the consequences of this legislative year is 2500 teachers will be laid off at the same time as $167 million of allowable growth is transferred onto property taxes.
The Democrats in the legislature approved $810 million in bonding for Governor Culver’s I-JOBS program. The total cost of this program when the bonds are repaid is $1.6 billion (including interest). All Republicans opposed this proposal because we believe it is foolhardy to spend money through borrowing when the state can not afford the projects at the time. Polls also show that Iowans oppose this by over 70%. The other troubling aspect of it is in the RIIF infrastructure bill, some of the I-JOBS money is expended on the funding of “affordable housing” in Iowa. As I mentioned on the House floor, most of us need to take out a mortgage to buy or build our homes. This plan makes Iowa taxpayers liable for the building of this housing in Dubuque (Speaker Murphy’s home town) and other chosen communities.
One of the things I am proud of is how well our Veterans have been treated in the 83rd General Assembly. Most of the bills passed that benefit Veterans I supported. Two of them I voted “nay” on. One allowed the “trailing spouse” to receive unemployment benefits. Because there was no requirement that the spouse even move, we did not feel it should pass in that version. One other time I voted against a Veterans bill was the one that requires employers to give a veteran a day off on Veteran’s Day. I felt this requirement is onerous to employers and could result in reluctance to hire veterans in small businesses.
One issue Iowans have been requesting that I am happy we could deliver is expanded second amendment rights in the passage of SF2379. This requires sheriffs to approve a permit to carry a concealed weapon, unless the person has a documented objectionable record.
One high profile issue was the ban on texting while driving. There was much time and discussion on the issue. I voted “nay” because I do not believe the law is enforceable and the passage of unenforceable law encourages disrespect for the rule of law.
Several things I believe should have happened this general assembly that did not. One that is forefront in my mind is the Democrat-controlled legislature which denied Iowans the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage. I believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman. I believe Iowans should have the opportunity to vote on this important issue. Beyond that, I feel that the ruling one year ago redefining marriage sets up a constitutional crisis. Iowa Code defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court ruling says it is something entirely different. The legislature should at least have addressed this inequity. Iowans deserve to know what truly is the law on this issue!
Republicans offered over $600 million in budget saving proposals over this two year period. Barely any of these ideas were adopted. The result is a $6.2 billion budget this year (the 2nd largest ever) and just under $6 billion budget last year. This is while the state has received $5.3 in ongoing revenue. Republicans will not spend more then the state brings in.
My pledge to you is to make good on that promise.
Betty De Boef
State Rep. Betty De Boef represents the townships of Columbia, richaland andSalt Creek including the City of Cheslea in Tama County, portions of Poweshiek and Iowa counties and Keokuk County in the Iowa Legislature.
State Rep. Betty De Boef