Greetings from the Capitol
The 2012 Legislative Session has begun. This week we heard Governor Branstad deliver his Condition of the State address. We also heard from Chief Justice Cady on the condition of the Judiciary. Next week we will hear from General Orr on the Condition of the Iowa National Guard.
This is scheduled to be the short year of the two year session and leadership has moved the funnel dates up to help ensure that happen. That being said, we still have much to do. Some of the issues I see coming down the pike for the year will be education reform, property tax reform, mental health reform, and most likely a discussion on transportation funding.
State Senator Tim Kapucian
The governor has brought forward a discussion on true education reform that increases student achievement and keeps the best teachers in our classrooms. Putting a plan out there is a place to start. We must continue to strive to return to the top of the nation in education. This is a fluid plan and I will be seeking input throughout the session.
In the past any type of property tax reform has only shifted the burden from one class of property to another, never really making meaningful tax reform. There are several different proposals out there requiring analysis and debate.
Review of mental healthcare delivery is another serious issue we are addressing this year. An efficient system with consistent services from county to county is the goal. A system where the state will fund a basic, core level of service to Medicaid eligible Iowans.
This summer the Governors 20-20 Commission on Transportation met to assess the status of our roads and bridges, to ensure we have the safest driving conditions possible. Where the money will come from, is of course, the area of debate. It is projected we will have a shortfall of 225 million dollars a year to repair our roads and bridges. Just as a point of reference, a one cent fuel tax would raise about 22 million dollars a year. Governor Branstad has requested the DOT to look for 50 million dollars in administrative savings. The governor also stated he would not support a gas tax increase for 2012. However, I believe we will see debate on a gas tax increase for years beyond 2012. Looking for savings first before raising taxes is a sound practice, much like fixing the holes of a bucket before you put more water in it.
As you can see, with a goal of a shortened session we will definitely have our hands full with many issues to discuss and debate. As always I look forward to your input and advice.
See you out and about in the district,