Posted: January 13, 2014

Below is Speaker Paulsen’s opening day remarks:

I’m happy to welcome you all to the second session of the 85th General Assembly.

I don’t know about what your experiences during the interim were, but I have never been thanked for the legislature’s work as much as I have been this last eight months. To be clear I don’t think all of a sudden we were smarter or harder working, I think it was that the 150 members of the general assembly and Governor Branstad decided to have what ended up being an exceptional focus on Iowans and advancing public policy that advanced our state.

And while we may have been rigid in maintaining our principles, we were flexible and committed to finding resolution within them. The product ended up being something that all Iowans could be proud of.

This commitment to the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa is what we should have again this year, so that when we walk out of this building after the final adjournment for 2014 we can once again say we put Iowans first, moved the state forward, and that the state of Iowa is better for us having been here.

I trust that you are ready to do that, and to have an efficient session – I expect this will not be a year in which we burn daylight.

Some say that since this is an election year both parties will retreat to their respective corners, lob partisan bills back and forth all while taking jabs at each other in the press. That particular strategy has been going on in Washington, D.C. for quite some time and I think we all can agree that it has proven to be a pathway to ineffective government, and simply put, an absolute disaster at times.

Instead of concentrating on political tensions and campaigns, let’s find common ground. Instead of imposing policies that pit one group of Iowans against another, let’s work on behalf of all Iowans. Instead of focusing exclusively on our differences, let’s focus on what is achievable. Iowans expect this of us and we should expect nothing less of ourselves.

House Republicans will spend time and energy on bipartisan efforts to effectively manage the state budget and create certainty for Iowa families and Iowa employers.

House Republicans have set the tone on the state budget. Gone are the days of spending more than the state takes in while borrowing even more money. While states around us struggle to make their budgets work or are strangled by debt, we have created a fiscally strong and stable Iowa. This is not a coincidence. It is only possible because we have fiercely stuck to these core principles:
• Do not spend more money than the state takes in.
• Do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses.
• Do not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget.
• Return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

Three years ago, Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall. As the 2014 session begins, Iowa is spending just 88% of what our outdated expenditure limitation law allows, our budget reserves remain full and the ending balance is projected to be $928 million. Finally, House Republicans led the way on debt reduction by using a portion of the ending balance to pay off $114 million in bond debt earlier than required.

As we make decisions this year, we must recognize we still face challenging budget times and we must not endanger these accomplishments.

Opportunities to do more are before us.

As a parent, there’s a principle that I’ve tried to instill in my children– a simple idea in regards to the resources they have. Save some, spend some and give some back. With that in mind, we should continue to focus on spending less than we collect, paying off past debts and commitments, and sending the rest back to the hardworking taxpayers who sent the state their money in the first place.

We also have an opportunity to create certainty for Iowans. Those who create jobs and employ our friends and neighbors and the folks who fill those jobs with an honest day’s work deserve to know they can count on stability from their state government.

With the constant overreach, intrusion and insecurity made by the federal government, we need to be especially aware of the challenges facing Iowa employers and workers and lessen the burdens we ask them to shoulder at the state level.

We must continue to send the message across the country that Iowa is a great place to do business and House Republicans believe this is a great time to look at our income tax code and find opportunities to leave more money in the pockets of all Iowans.

Working hand in hand with employers, we must continue to advance policies that encourage investment in our state and workforce, and make sure our regulatory environment is not burdensome. Additionally, we need the education opportunities for Iowans to ensure they can get the training they need to take advantage of these jobs.

Last year, through the skilled worker initiative we invested significant resources in job opportunities and growth designed to cultivate future economic health for hardworking Iowans. This year we will continue our collaboration with community colleges on workforce training and job creation.

Iowa needs more people trained for the jobs that employers need to fill. Many of those jobs do not require a four-year degree. Iowa employers need skilled workers like: welders, computer techs, nurses, and many others. We need to continue the investments that train Iowans for these jobs and we need a bipartisan commitment to encourage Iowans to pursue these fields.

Too often, political rhetoric in this building focuses on the extremes. Today, I instead choose to put a stronger focus on the middle. Those Iowans who “play by the rules” – have a job, a few kids, a house or a car – who want to be left alone to raise their families and enjoy their communities. How can we make their lives easier?

Are we offering them relief from the squeeze of federal, state and local taxes? Are we looking for ways to make it easier for them to send their kids to college? Are we removing barricades that stop them from improving their own financial health? House Republicans are focused on tearing down obstacles for these Iowans.

We will once again look for ways to freeze tuition at the state universities to make college affordable for Iowa families. Across the country institutions are routinely raising tuition on students, putting a quality four year education out of reach for many. The work that our Regents institutions are doing with us to hold this line is important. And while we look forward to seeing the results of their efficiency strategies and studies, we also challenge them to find the greatest amount of savings possible – going through their budgets line by line, just as we have done here at the statehouse.

On behalf of the hard working taxpayers of Iowa we look forward to seeing the various proposals from Governor Branstad and the Iowa Senate. We look forward to working through the challenges in front of us in order to move the state of Iowa ahead.

If we stay focused on prudent management of their tax dollars, assisting in growing Iowa’s economy and opportunities, and also making sure Iowans have access to the training they need to advance themselves and their families we will have another productive year.

Every year in my opening day speech I offer a gentle reminder that the desks we sit in belong to the 30,000 Iowans we each represent back home. The people who send us here expect us to do our jobs, just like they do every day.

Every vote you take, I hope you’ll think of the small business owner who struggles to keep their doors open, but without whom there would be no town square. I hope you will consider the farmer who feeds the world every day. I hope you will imagine the folks in the middle, the parents who play by the rules and don’t ask for anything except a level playing field.

These hardworking Iowans all have the same hopes and concerns. They look at their checkbooks and worry about paying the bills, about their children’s future and about making ends meet. These seats are theirs and every day we sit in them we should be focused on how to unite in their best interests.

Now — let’s get to work.

Posted: June 17, 2013

Last week Governor Branstad signed Senate File 295 into law, issuing the largest tax cut in Iowa history.

Branstad held the signing ceremony at Hawkeye Ready-Mix Concrete in Hiawatha, where he recognized the support of many individuals involved in this historic reform, including Speaker Kraig Paulsen who was on hand during the ceremony.

“Today, the largest tax cut in Iowa history will become law. I am proud to say this tax cut passed with bi-partisan support in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate,” said Branstad. “This tax relief bill will put more money in the pockets of Iowa families and make it easier for Iowa businesses to invest and grow in our state. I am proud to say that today, we make it easier for Iowa families to grow and thrive in the Heartland of America.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged the bi-partisan efforts.

“In Iowa, a group of thoughtful leaders differentiate themselves by a commitment to working together, and that commitment to working together is what helps make Iowa so great” said Reynolds. “This is a tax cut that will help Iowa families, farmers and businesses grow and prosper.”

Over ten years, this bill will provide an estimated $4.4 billion in property tax relief for Iowa’s hardworking taxpayers. Every class of property will see permanent property tax relief, with agricultural and residential property tax payers saving an estimated $500 million annually by year ten. On top of all the property tax relief, the bill includes nearly $90 million in annual income tax relief.

Video of Speaker Paulsen’s remarks

Posted: May 23, 2013

(DES MOINES) – House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) delivered closing remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today. The following are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:

A sincere thank you to the members of the eighty-fifth general assembly, and in particular, House Republicans – I appreciate the hard work, commitment and honest debates we had at the state capitol this year. Thanks also to your families who deal with hectic schedules and our absences all so we can serve the good people of this state.

Thank you specifically to my wife, Cathy, and our children for your continued support, understanding and sharing in the sacrifice of our time together.

I want to thank a great leadership team that I am honored to work with – Reps. Windschitl, Hagenow, Rogers, Smith and Fry - I appreciate your leadership and dedication to the Republican caucus. To Speaker Pro Tem Steve Olson, thanks for your input, advice and the guidance you provide.

Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer – I appreciate, and House Republicans value, the work that you do. Your service and vision are vital to our efforts and have not only made our caucus more determined, but made the state better.

I’d also like to recognize Leader McCarthy and the minority party. Thank you for your efforts this year and for continuing to work in a bipartisan manner when you could and keeping your opposition civil when you could not.

Once again, thank you to the leadership staff: Doug, Terri, Josie, Angie, and Tony. And, in my opinion, the best caucus staff in the building – the House Republican Caucus staff: Jeff, Lew, Brad, Jason, Kristi, Carrie, Colin, Amanda, Louis and Dustin. Thank you for your hard work and the timely and reliable information you provide year in and year out.

Chief Clerk Boal, thank you to you and your staff, the work you all do right here in front me and behind the scenes make this chamber operate efficiently.

A special thanks to LSA for all of your hard work, much of what you do is not seen but it does not go unnoticed.

I also want to recognize and thank the gentleman to my right, the Speaker’s page, Keith Paulsen. Keith and I go way back. Thanks for taking care of me this year, Keith. Having you by my side these few months has made this one of the most special and memorable sessions I’ve had serving in the legislature.

And finally, a special thank you to Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and their team for their resolve and unwavering leadership.

At the start of the 2013 session, I outlined an action plan to promote a strong Iowa – one that encompasses a strong economy, strong budget leadership and strong schools and communities. As we close the session, I believe we have fulfilled this commitment to Iowans.

Iowa has the third highest commercial property taxes and the 16th highest residential property taxes in the nation. I pointed out at the beginning of session if nothing was done to address this problem, the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa were staring down the barrel of a $2.6 billion property tax increase over the next 10 years, with the majority of that falling to homeowners. Homeowners have been and would continue to be shouldering much of the burden as the rollback turns into the roll up.

Iowans have been very clear that they want property tax reform and relief and we were able to deliver for them in a way that has never been done before. For over a decade, the legislature has wrestled with this issue without success.

We passed bipartisan tax relief and reform that:
–Includes property tax relief for all classifications of property.
–Is meaningful, inclusive and reliable reform so taxpayers can count on relief from year to year.
–Ensures residential taxpayers receive as much relief as commercial taxpayers.
–Limits assessment growth from 4 percent to 3 percent on ag and residential taxpayers.
–Includes a 10 percent rollback on taxable value for commercial and industrial property.
–Is $560 million in property tax relief, once fully implemented.
–Additionally, this bill enacts a permanent mechanism for the taxpayer trust fund tax credit, giving any overpayment back to taxpayers.

This absolutely will make a difference for every Iowan.

We also fulfilled our commitment to provide strong budget leadership. Three years ago, Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall, behaving much like they do in Washington, D.C. This was unacceptable and Iowans demanded a change. In response, House Republicans outlined budgeting principles that have guided our decisions for the last three sessions. They are:

-aligning ongoing spending with ongoing revenue.
-resisting spending one-time money on ongoing expenses.
-preventing the intentional underfunding of entitlement programs.
-returning unused tax dollars to Iowa taxpayers.

The bipartisan budget passed this session results in three percent growth over fiscal year 2013 and spends merely 88 percent of what the state is allowed to spend. Culture change in large, entrenched institutions is extremely difficult to accomplish, yet it happened. This is not something to be taken lightly. We have charted a new course for future legislatures, one that puts hardworking Iowa taxpayers first, not the government.

We also took charge in regards to the ending balance. Our debt relief bill pays off $114 million in commitments earlier than required, fulfills our obligations in regards to pension funds, makes an investment on one-time infrastructure projects at the regents universities and in water quality.

We came together to make Iowa’s schools and communities stronger by moving education reform that offers flexibility for school districts, innovation for teachers, accountability for parents and protection for taxpayers. Instead of continually throwing money at a less-than-perfect system, we met the challenge to bring about real reform that will provide measurable results. We were also able to strengthen the role of Iowa parents, not the government.

And finally, House Republicans crafted a bipartisan health care plan that focuses on making Iowans healthier without bowing to federal pressure to expand Medicaid. The federal government attempted to force Iowa and other states into expanding a broken and outdated system. Instead of taking the easy way out, House Republicans, led by the Majority Leader and Rep. Rogers, knuckled-down and created an Iowa solution to our own health care needs. This solution improves the quality of care, lowers costs and makes Iowans healthier.

This has been a remarkable session—we set very high expectations and the 150 of us, working together, met them all. As I said in my opening day speech, we are not Washington, D.C. We do not offer ultimatums, push things off until they are nearing a cliff, or wait for a crisis to react. We’re Iowans and I believe once again this General Assembly has proved that we can come together on behalf of Iowans to accomplish serious and meaningful work. Our leaders in the federal government, Congress and the Administration, both Republicans and Democrats, should take notice of our process and results. If Washington operated more like Iowa, America would be much better off.

Again, thank you for your efforts.


Posted: May 3, 2013

As we near the end of the 2013 session, we continue to work through the various budget areas, working on behalf of the hardworking taxpayers of Iowa to ensure the budget principles I have previously outlined are used to get the state’s fiscal house in order. As a reminder:

• Republican budgets do not spend more money than the state takes in;
• Republican budgets do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;
• Republican budgets do not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget;
• Republican budgets will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

I want to take a moment to thank all of the high school pages, particularly the Speaker’s page, who worked in the House this year. Every year when legislators descend upon the Capitol and go to work on behalf of Iowans, they are joined by some of Iowa’s brightest and most talented high school students. These students spend the session (or half session) as Legislative pages – serving in the House, Senate and Legislative Services Agency.

As the Speaker of the House, I have an office page that assists me and my staff. His primary responsibility is running the soundboard in the chamber. I’ve asked him to share his perspective on being a page with you below.

Hello, my name is Keith Paulsen, and I am a homeschooled Senior from Hiawatha, Iowa. I am the son of the Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, Kraig Paulsen, and I am serving as his page during this legislative session.

Originally, I first heard about the page program eleven years ago when my father was a newly-elected representative and I saw the pages busying about on the House floor. I have wanted to be a page at the Capitol since that day. I’ve visited the Iowa State Capitol multiple times during sessions since then, however I hadn’t given being a page much serious thought until my dad brought it up to me last summer. When he did I knew that I wanted to do it.

Because I am the Speaker’s Page I have a plentiful amount of responsibilities, these are a few of them. I am in charge of transporting the gavel and striking block to and from the Speaker’s office and rostrum on the House floor. While on the floor, I run the microphones and timer during debate. In addition to these things I also do office errands, answer the phone, greet people that come into the office, run documents to other offices, process mail, keep the fridge and copier fully stocked of supplies and any other odd job that is found fit for me to do.

The most enjoyable part of my job is getting the opportunity to meet and talk with a large variety of different people here at the Capitol. Some of these people are representatives who come from different parts of the state, with different backgrounds and ideas about the state and how to make it better. I also get to meet the people that come into the Speaker’s office to talk to him. This brings a wide variety of people that ranges from constituents from his district, visitors from around the state, organizations, lobbyists and more that come to talk about issues of concern. There are many other people that I get talk to, some that work at the Capitol and others that are visiting.

Working at the Capitol as the Speaker’s page has been an exceptional experience for me. I have been able to listen and learn about the legislative process and see it happening firsthand, and all of the work and time that goes into it. I have seen the politics of decision making and what happens because of those decisions. I have talked with people from around the state and hear the interests of Iowans. The greatest of all my experiences though has been the opportunity to work for my dad, the Speaker, and spend time learning from him.

I would recommend the page program to anyone and encourage them to do it, especially those that are interested in politics, it is a great opportunity.

Keith is more than just my page, he’s my son and it’s been a tremendous experience having him serve as my page this session. I am very proud of the work he – and all the pages – have done this year. If you know someone who might be interested in serving as a page during the next session, you can find more information here or contact me if you have questions (515) 281-3521 or

Posted: April 29, 2013

We had another successful week in the House. Several more budget bills moved through the process and were sent to bipartisan conference committees where they will hopefully find resolution quickly.

As the budgets have been moving through the House and Senate, it has become clear that Democrats have already begun to surpass their own budget targets.

In February, House Republicans and Senate Democrats each released their budget targets. At that time, Senate Democrats proposed spending $6.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 ($487 million more than House Republicans) resulting in an 11 percent increase in state General Fund spending over last year’s level. The Senate proposal spends over $1.05 for every dollar of state revenue.

By contrast, the House Republican budget spends 98 cents for every dollar of state revenue. The Fiscal Year 2014 proposal by House Republicans spends $6.4139 billion. This is a 3 percent increase over last year’s spending level and it protects priority services in the areas of education, health and human services and public safety.

Over the last 20 years, state revenue has averaged 3.4 percent growth.

As budgets have been working through the legislative process over the past few weeks, it has become clear that Senate Democrats have already surpassed their own unsustainable budget targets. The budgets that passed the Senate have spent nearly $47 million more than what their initial targets laid out. These changes have raised the amount of the Senate’s budget to an 11.6% increase in state General Fund spending over last year’s level, and they still have not acted on the Standings bill.

The House Republicans’ budgets outline principles used to get the state’s fiscal house in order:
• Republican budgets do not spend more money than the state takes in;
• Republican budgets do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;
• Republican budgets do not intentionally underfund entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget;
• Republican budgets will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. My office phone is (515)281-3521 or email is

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