The Iowa Legislature adjourned for the year late last night. The last items of business were bills that helped outline the more than five billion dollar state budget. Representative Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, is chair of the House Appropriations Committee, so he was in on the behind-the-scenes meetings that crafted that budget plan.
“We made sure that the taxpayers and the hard-working families of Iowa will not see an increased state tax burden,” Dix says. But Senator Bob Brunkhorst, a Republican from Waverly, wasn’t happy.
“You know, where they spent the money, yea, for the most part it was good, they didn’t have a lot of pork barrel so I appreciate that but otherwise I mean, frankly, Iowa can’t sustain this spending,” Brunkhorst says. Senator Joel Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, is among those who were disappointed lawmakers did not raise the state cigarette tax.
“I think there’s an appetite to invest in education, invest in health care, invest in public safety needs of the state and I think we have to be honest with Iowans as we look at increasing spending in those key areas that we have revenues that meet those expenditures and this budget struggles to do that,” Bolkcom says. The Senate adjourned at 10:52 last night. The House moved to complete its work minutes later, at 10:58. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, chose to quote a character from Star Wars to sum up the year.
“To quote the great Jedi master, Yoda, ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ That quote from the Empire Strikes Back is fitting, not just because, you know, the new Star Wars movie that came out this week, but because this was a legislative session that was about doing and about accomplishing, not just trying,” Rants said.
“Our accomplishments this legislative session will benefit generations of Iowans to come.” House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque said legislators took risks, like that half a billion dollar, 10-year economic development program they call the Iowa Values Fund.
“To help make this state better and the citizens in this state better and to give opportunity to them and to our children for the future,” Murphy said.