House leaders highlight 2015 priorities
January 15, 2015
Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (R-Cedar Rapids) opened the 2015 legislative session welcoming representatives and their families and acknowledged late Rep. Dwayne Alons’ commitment to moving Iowa forward. Alons died in late November.
Paulsen focused on the need to cut the size of government while maintaining its effectiveness. "If we cannot fund Iowans' priorities with an additional $200 million then that means two things: we have too many priorities and we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem."
Paulsen wants to continue removing barriers to the rule making process and improve the skilled workers initiative.
Newly-elected Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) stressed the importance of working together. He recognized each legislator has different priorities based on their constituents’ expectations and he looks forward to bipartisan accomplishments.
"There are times we may not agree on the best path forward, but we all have a similar interest at heart, to do what is right by the people of Iowa,” Windschitl said.
Democratic Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) highlighted his pride in leading the most diverse caucus in the State Capitol. Smith said the House Democrats' top two priorities are strengthening Iowa's middle class and re-vitalizing rural Iowa.
Smith mentioned their priorities include expanding the skilled worker initiative; better education; encouraging partnerships between educators and businesses to give students hands-on learning experience; raising the minimum wage; encouraging production and use of renewable energy; ensuring access to good education; expanding access to broadband and Wi-Fi; improve water quality and expand the Nutrient Reduction Strategy; and access to affordable health care, including mental health services.
Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) focused the majority of her comments on the budget. Upmeyer talked about various priorities of different legislators from providing tax relief, investing in world-class education, increasing access to job training and investing more in infrastructure, school choice and renewable energy.
"These are the kinds of choices that begin to be taken away from our constituents and us when we have an inflexible federal program whose growth outpaces revenue. But challenges present opportunities,” she said. Upmeyer stressed the importance of finding ways to be more efficient and effective with the resources we have, eliminate fraud and find ways to insulate ourselves from the inflexibility and inefficiency of federal obligations. "We should not be restrained form what we do best, finding Iowa based solutions for Iowa needs,” she said. Upmeyer closed saying the Legislature works best when they come together and find solutions for the challenges the state faces.