Session puts Iowa families, Main Street first
The national recession made the 2010 session one of tough decisions. We’re proud that, in the end, we responsibly balanced the budget without raising taxes and laid a solid foundation for Iowa’s economic recovery.
It wasn’t easy. We made deep cuts in order to keep to our commitments to educational opportunity, affordable health care, renewable energy, public safety and job creation. At the same time, we tackled the first major reorganization of state government in 25 years. The changes we made will stretch today’s dollars and save hundreds of millions over the next five years.
Highlights of the 2010 session include:
** Balancing the state budget without raising taxes. We finished the session with an ending balance of $182 million and put a total of $200 million into our savings accounts.
** Saving money by reorganizing state government. By streamlining services and finding efficiencies, we’re saving taxpayers more than $120 million this year. An early retirement plan for state employees will save about $190 million over the next five years, and an executive order from the Governor is giving the state an additional $70 million in savings.
** Preserving educational opportunity in our schools. We invested in student achievement by increasing state aid to local schools by $145 million over last year, protecting dollars to recruit and keep great teachers in our classrooms, expanding pre-school and making sure students graduate with the skills they need to land a good job.
** Maintaining affordable higher education. To help keep tuition costs down, we increased state support for Iowa’s community colleges by $10 million and provided more than $550 million to our public universities.
** Expanding access to affordable health care. We will continue to be among the nation’s leaders when it comes to children’s health care. Now it will also be easier for rural residents to access health care and for rural hospitals to be paid for the care they provide. In addition, insurance companies will be required to give small businesses and Iowans more notification and more specific justification before increasing rates.
** Helping small businesses grow. We made new low-interest loans available to help small businesses create jobs and strengthened Iowa’s Small Business Development Centers. In addition, a new Web site will be developed as a central point for small business assistance.
** Reforming business tax credits. By shifting the focus of our tax credits away from big business and investing more in our local Main Street businesses, we cut the state’s tax credit liability by $115 million and dramatically increased public accountability. Our reforms will make sure that tax credits are creating jobs and growing Iowa’s economy. If they aren’t, they’ll be eliminated.
** Protecting Iowa communities. We approved tougher laws on sex offenders, Internet sex predators and domestic abusers. At the same time, we expanded gun rights for law-abiding citizens. New traffic laws will make our roadways safer and save lives.
** Supporting our service members and veterans. Iowa became the first state in the nation to approve the Department of Defense’s ten measures in support of military families. We also passed numerous measures that honor and assist our veterans.
** Building Iowa’s alternative energy economy. The Legislature approved the fourth year of the Iowa Power Fund and other legislation to expand the production of Iowa-grown energy, help family farmers and make our state more energy independent.
Unfortunately, the national recession isn’t over yet. However, the steps we’ve taken this year make Iowa far better positioned than most states to recover quicker and stronger.
You can find a more detailed summary of this session’s highlights here (PDF).Posted Apr. 13th, 2010 at 10:06 am by Senate Staff
Tags: 2010 priorities, accountability, budget, Fiscal Responsibility, government reorganization