On Monday, the First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses were held and thousands of Iowans turned out to kick of the Presidential nomination process. In order to allow lawmakers to participate and be back home with their constituents for the Caucuses, we didn’t have session on which made for a short yet busy week of work in Des Moines.
I was able to make it to caucuses in all three counties I represent, Butler, Grundy, and Hardin, and folks were energized and excited.
While there was much focus on the Democrat caucuses, Republicans set a turnout record for most people caucusing with an incumbent in office. The 32,000 Republicans that went to caucus for President Trump on Monday night bested the 25,000 Democrats who caucused for President Obama in 2012. Not only that, turnout for Republicans was 4x higher than it was in 2004 when President George W. Bush was running for re-election, a record at the time.
Iowans are incredibly lucky to host the caucuses every four years. This is a unique process that Iowans take seriously that requires candidates to answer serious questions and make their cases to voters.
At the Statehouse, committees are continuing to move priority bills through in an efficient fashion. Legislators are constantly running between subcommittee and committee meetings throughout the day as we move closer to our first funnel.
Last week the House announced a K-12 funding package that would increase investment to schools by $108 million, with additional dollars in general aid, transportation for rural schools, and per pupil equity. This week, that package was moved through committee and is on track for debate on the floor next week. We continue to work with our counterparts in the Senate to finalize an agreement. Schools are planning their budgets for the upcoming school year and we are well on pace to meet our deadline.
We also continue to review Governor Reynolds’ Invest in Iowa Act which would raise the sales tax, while reducing income taxes, funding water quality, natural resources, and outdoor recreation projects, and shifting a portion of mental health costs from property taxes to the state general fund.
This is a big bill with a lot of moving pieces. If there is a will to tackle this issue, it will take time. Legislators are still reviewing this bill and getting input from constituents. I will cover the Governor’s plan in more detail in a future newsletter, but if you have an opinion at this time, feel free to share and let me know.