I think one of the most maddening things about all this snow is that it all came after Christmas. I love snowy Christmases, but instead I have just had a bunch of perilous drives to the capitol, which is totaling up to approximately 40+ total inches this winter. I know that seems like a lot but it isn’t even close to breaking the seasonal record of 72 inches. Even though the mountains of snow continue to pile high outside, things are really starting to heat up in the capitol.

In Appropriations this week we announced our targets for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The House budget plan for FY2020 spends $7.668 billion, accounting for 97.45% of ongoing revenue. This is $9.5 million higher than Governor Reynolds’ FY2020 budget proposal of $7.658 billion.

An important point of those numbers to keep in mind is we are spending 97.45% of on-going revenue. What that means is there will be an, approximately, 300 million dollar cushion in the budget to absorb things like lower than expected revenue (REC meets again in mid-March) or a small recession without having to go through de-appropriations.

A little history, when House Republicans came into the majority in 2011, the state budget was a disaster. The state faced a $1 billion structural deficit after years of underfunding programs, using one-time funding sources for ongoing needs, and raiding the state’s reserve accounts without a plan to pay it back.

Since House Republicans have been in the majority, they’ve brought common sense budgeting back to the Statehouse. Our state government is leaner, more efficient and more effective than it’s ever been. However, the strong condition of our budget didn’t happen overnight. It took years of hard work, planning, and smart management to reach this point. I commend those who had to make those hard decisions to put us on the right path.

Now, I think we’ve offered a conservative, responsible budget plan that funds our priorities, limits spending, and puts taxpayers first. This budget plan also allows us to invest in key priorities like education, career training, health care, and public safety.

Fast facts on the budget:

$7.668 billion budget for FY20

97.45% of ongoing revenue

0.63% increase from FY19

$298M ending balance

There is room in this budget to fund things like:

K-12 education

Community colleges

Regent universities

Iowa Tuition Grants

Future Ready Iowa

Medicaid

Mental health reforms

Rural hospitals

Broadband and housing initiatives for rural Iowa

Prisons and the Iowa State Patrol

Over the next several weeks, we will identify priorities and recommend funding levels for each of the individual line items contained in our state budget.

In State Government, we dispensed with the regular committee meeting and instead, we all sat in on the subcommittee on sports gambling. After hearing what the public had to say about what they liked and disliked about the bill, the subcommittee passed it out of their committee and on to the full committee, which I believe we will take up for a vote sometime next week. Also, in State Government this week, I ran a bill eliminating the education telecommunications council and regional telecommunications councils, which came about from those councils outliving their purpose needing to be struck from our code.

In Commerce, we voted out bills on real estate appraisers, demolition reserves on fire real estate claims, and a bill relating to fees on public utilities for the use of public right-of-way.

In Veterans Affairs we heard from Steve Lukan, the Executive Director of Iowa’s Department of Veterans Affairs. He gave us an overview of operations of the Iowa Veterans Cemetery and the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund.

I was honored to join a group of bipartisan legislators on the Millennial Action Project for the Iowa Future Caucus. The mission of the Iowa Future Caucus is to foster bipartisan dialogue among young and innovative legislators committed to working on the issues facing millennials and future generations. We have members from age 21 to 40 and I consider them all friends. Thanks to the Senator “Zachs,” Wahls (D) and Nunn(R) and Reps Mitchell(R) and James(D) for your work on getting this started. It was said at the kickoff event that 88% of the legislation that goes through up here is completely bipartisan. That’s important to highlight in the face of some of our media and “keyboard warriors” that seek to divide us. Find out more here: www.millennialaction.org/state-future-caucuses

I am honored to represent House District 20 at the Capitol. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and be your voice here in Des Moines and remember, our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain!