A top statehouse Democrat is establishing a "Rebuild Iowa" Committee in the Iowa House that will start meeting in January. House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says the panel will address flood recovery efforts. Murphy and other Democrats who’ll serve in the Iowa House met yesterday to chart an agenda for the 2009 legislative session — and Murphy says Democrats have no plan to raise taxes.
"We are sitting in much better shape than, quite frankly, most other states are. We have $624 million in reserve funds," Murphy says. "…We’re handling things in a very fiscally-responsible fashion and we will continue to do that."
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines admits it will be "tougher" to draft a state budget. "But there are places in the budget to be able to adjust," McCarthy says. "Keep in mind we’re in a position of strength with $624 million in our cash reserve funds so unlike a lot of states right now that don’t have reserve funds, we’re in a position to be able to withstand this national economic effect on Iowa."
McCarthy and Murphy were reelected to their leadership positions by their fellow Democrats. McCarthy notes six African-Americans were elected to the House last week. "We’re very proud that for the first time ever we have the largest number of minorities that will be serving in the Iowa Legislature," McCarthy says. "…So we’re a much more diverse caucus, much more reflective of the state of Iowa as a whole."
A record six African-American representatives, including two who were elected last week, will be sworn into office in January. Kerry Burt of Waterloo and Phyllis Thede of Davenport will join State Representatives Deborah Berry of Waterloo, Helen Miller of Fort Dodge, Ako Abdul-Samad of Des Moines and Wayne Ford of Des Moines, who were all reelected on November 4th.