The top Republican in the legislature says it’s time for lawmakers to reign in the reach of state government and reject requests for ramping up state government spending. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha expressed those sentiments in his speech on opening day of the 2015 legislative session.
“I’d like to issue a simple, straight-forward challenge to you,” Paulsen said. “While others bring forward their laundry list of funding opportunities, spending priorities or flashy government programs — I challenge this General Assembly to ensure that government do less.”
What government does do should be done better, according to Paulsen.
“Government continues to meddle in Iowans’ lives and seems incapable of doing even the smallest jobs correctly sometimes,” Paulsen said. “Today, we must meet the challenge of stopping this intrusion.”
Paulsen suggested legislators should consider setting a close-down date for any new program they establish, along with combing through existing state programs to see which can be eliminated.
“I’ve been contacted by various interest groups, lobbyists, even government agenices regarding how much more money they need to keep doing what they are currently doing,” Paulsen said. “Do we ever stop to ask: ‘Do we really need government doing all this activity?’ Government could do better if it wasn’t trying to do so much.”
Paulsen told his colleagues the “sky will not come crashing down” if legislators embrace “pragmatic ways” to reduce state taxes — and Paulsen struck back at calls for significant state funding increases for Iowa school districts.
“Putting even more money into education while test scores and other measurements continue to decline is more of the same. We need to identify and solve problems differently,” Paulsen said. “…Blustering, ranting and drawing lines in the sand accomplishes very little.”
AUDIO of Paulsen’s speech
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal used his speech on the opening day of the 2015 legislative session to chide Republicans over state spending on public education.