“This is a very hopeful time of the year when we ring in a New Year and a new legislative session,” Senate President Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, said at the start of her speech.
But some pretty clear partisan warnings were on display as well. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs put Republicans on notice about education spending.
“We must break the pattern of the last few years when the governor and the Iowa House leaders successfully insisted on inadequate funding for our local schools,” Gronstal said.
House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown called on legislators and the governor to make a quick decision.
“No more delays. No more vetoes. No more schemes. No more games,” Smith said. “Public schools must come first again.”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, pointed to the sentiments Iowans are sharing with the presidential candidates competing in Iowa’s Caucuses.
“They are unhappy with the status quo and they do not believe that there’s a will to change it,” Upmeyer said. “I share their concern…I am not only talking about our next president. I am talking about us.”
And Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock began the first day of the 2016 legislative session by accusing Democrats of “grandstanding” and engaging in “reckless spending”.
“As we’ve witnessed repeatedly in the last several years, when state cost-cutting measures were proposed they faced great resistance,” Dix said.
Dix suggested the state faces a “financial storm” that requires swift action. These messages from legislators provides a bit of a sneak peak at the debate that will rage on the campaign trail this fall as all 100 seats in the Iowa House are up for grabs and 25 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate are on the ballot.