Monday, January 11th we began our work at the Iowa State Capitol for the 89th General Assembly. With a new session, I have new responsibilities and it is my honor to serve as Assistant Majority Leader, chair of the Education Budget, Vice Chair of State Government as well as on the Natural Resources and Environment, Education, and Appropriations committees.
We have had to make adjustments to keep everyone at the Capitol building safe due to the pandemic, while still giving the public access to subcommittees and elected officials. Subcommittees will be online, giving access to many Iowans who haven’t been able to participate in the past since they have only occurred in person in Des Moines. I am glad we are utilizing technology to provide access and transparency to the subcommittee process.
We also welcomed eight new members into the Senate, one Democrat and seven Republicans, and I look forward to getting to know them and hearing their ideas for the issues we will face together this session.
I was honored to escort Governor Kim Reynolds into the House Chamber for her Condition of the State address where she spoke about the resiliency of Iowans who met every challenge Iowa faced this past year through the pandemic and the derecho storm that blew through our state. She highlighted her priorities that include expansion of high-speed broadband, workforce training and education programs, access to quality childcare, affordable housing, mental health services, telehealth, support of our healthcare systems, tax relief and support of law enforcement. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send strong policy to her desk for enactment.
We started 2020 with record low unemployment, a strong economy and a strong fiscal position. Good conservative budgeting over the past four years put Iowa in a strong position where we ended the last fiscal year with a $305 million surplus and that prepared us well to weather these challenges, but there is work to do to not only recover, but make Iowa even stronger. We will do that by continuing with good fiscal pro-growth policies that includes tax reform that puts more money back into the pockets of Iowans, encourages work and investment and gets our students safely back in the classroom where they learn best.