Our own hometown guy, Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, took over as House minority leader today. That means he, as a top legislative leader, was given time to orate on the House floor as the 2009 session began this morning.
Here’s the text of his remarks:
Thank you Mr. Speaker; Mr. Speaker, Ladies & Gentlemen of the House, Friends and Families.
On behalf of House Republicans, welcome to the 83rd General Assembly. Congratulations to the new members of the House.
It is a very special task you are about to begin and it is also one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in your life. My one piece of advice – you get as much out of this as you put in – I suggest you go all in. I hope each day you serve will be as exciting as this first one.
As many of you know, Rep. Royd Chambers of Sheldon serves not only this state as a representative, but also our country, in the Air National Guard. At the beginning of this year, Rep. Chambers was deployed overseas and will likely not be joining us this session. Like all those who serve, the work Royd is doing is important and I know you share my pride and appreciation for his efforts in protecting us from those who seek to do us harm. There are those who are called to something even greater than themselves, those who make it possible for us to come and do the people’s work-and I would ask you to join me in keeping Royd and the other brave men and women who are serving our country in your thoughts and prayers.
There is work that needs to be done in this house as well.
Everywhere you look there are reports and messages about economic uncertainty – both at home and in the workplace.
We, in this session, will be facing difficult and sometimes painful decisions. But they are certainly no more difficult or painful than the decisions that Iowa’s families and taxpayers are making everyday.
We must remember that state government is not the only entity facing uncertainty. With that in mind, we must protect families and taxpayers – not ask them to dig deeper in their own pockets to solve a budget problem that this Legislature created for itself.
Since it is impossible to move forward without first understanding your past, we need to remember something. When the 82nd General Assembly closed its doors last May, we walked out of here $563 million in the red. Today, due to the hardships and disasters of 2008, we walk in here $779 million in the red.
But let’s be clear about this. The initial shortfall of $563 million was not caused by George W. Bush or Congressional Democrats as some have claimed, it was not caused by sliding stock markets or housing crunches. It was caused by a lack of discipline and a failure of duties with Iowans’ dollars. That being said, House Republicans are ready to look toward the future and craft solutions.
Mr. Speaker, this blame game serves no one well – so my pledge is this, as long as we are able to look forward and work towards solutions I have no interest in laying blame. However, if blame is continued to be misplaced, as Republicans believe it has in the last several weeks, I will continue to talk about the pork of the last two years – the 2,600 new state employees – the 17+% spending increases. Mr. Speaker, Republicans prefer to move on, I hope Democrats feel the same.
The first order of business should be a meaningful disaster relief bill that helps the thousands of Iowans who can’t sleep in their own home at night.
Republicans are ready to help draft a bill that creates substantive measures that permit our small businesses to get their doors back open faster and put Iowans back to work.
We must make sure we invest properly into rebuilding Iowa’s infrastructure.
This body has set aside dollars exactly for these purposes – we need to put these dollars to work.
I can assure you, Republicans will not shy away from any of these challenges.
Last year in his veto message on the collective bargaining bill, Gov. Culver stated the legislation, which rewrote Iowa’s collective bargaining law, could result in substantial tax increases and that it was not in the best interest of the taxpayer. Republicans believe that the governor used the right test on that day.
But we also believe there is another meritorious test. Does proposed legislation grow Iowa’s economy – does it create more jobs – does it encourage employers to invest in our workforce? If it does pass the test we should press forward, if it does not, it must be set aside.
Mr. Speaker, Republicans believe many of the left-over high profile bills from last year do not pass this test. You should expect us to oppose Combined Corporate Reporting, property tax increases and any attempt to weaken or gut Iowa’s right to work law. These proposals do not pass the test.
We must also bring more truth and transparency to our budget process and spending decisions. Republicans believe that Iowans deserve to know what is happening with their tax dollars at all times.
Expect Republicans to dive into budgets and look for cost-saving measures. We are committed to asking tough questions and shining light on the process to bring true accountability to the people’s House. We must examine how we spend each taxpayer dollar.
We will not support a budget that is balanced by adding to Iowa’s already overly burdensome taxes and this includes any attempt to eliminate the largest income tax deduction for nearly every middle class Iowan– federal deductibility.
Mr. Speaker, I recognize you may have preferred my comments be filled with less confrontational words. But we have serious work to do. As committed as I am and my caucus is to staying true to these principles we are also that committed to making sure this body and this general assembly are successful in moving Iowa forward.
We stand ready to do what needs to be done for:
– A stronger, growing Iowa economy
– Meaningful disaster relief for Iowa
– A responsible budget. And just as the governor has said, balanced without raising taxes
– Affordable healthcare
– Strong education – including stronger community colleges
– A robust energy policy that protects those paying electric and gas bills and our natural resources
– An open responsive state government
It’s a challenging, but exciting time for Iowa
Mr. Speaker, Republicans are ready to go to work.