Kraigpaulsen.com


Posted: May 2, 2014

Early Wednesday morning the Iowa House adjourned for the year, closing the books on the 2014 legislative session. I’d like to thank all of you who took the time to send me emails, called my office and sent letters expressing your support or opposition to pieces of legislation. I am always appreciative of your feedback and thoughts. During the interim, please feel free to contact me at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov or call my office at (515) 281-3521. Also visit www.iowahouserepublicans.com for constant updates and articles.

Below is the speech I gave to close out the session:
I’d like to start by quickly thanking you, the members of the eighty-fifth general assembly for your hard work and for closing the books on another session. It is truly an honor to serve as your speaker. Specifically, I’d like to thank the House Republicans – you have proved once again that we can govern while maintaining our principles.

To my wife, Cathy, and our children, thank you for your constant support and understanding.

I want to thank our 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, I have greatly appreciated your insights and our conversations. You will be missed next year.

To the Majority Leader, Linda Upmeyer, thank you for your unwavering leadership. Rarely is there a wall put up that you cannot find a way around or, as sometimes is required, to break through. I value your friendship and appreciate your tireless work.

To Leader Smith and the minority party, thank you for your efforts this year.

To our leadership staff: Louis, 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, Dane and Brittany – you are not thanked enough for the work that you do and the service you provide. We are very appreciative.

Chief Clerk Boal, thank you to you and your staff, the work you all do to make this chamber operate efficiently. And LSA for all of your hard work, much of what you do is not seen but it does not go unnoticed.

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

When Iowans look back on the entire eighty-fifth general assembly, and specifically the House of Representatives, I think they will remember it for the work focused on those Iowans who play by the rules and simply want less government in their lives and in their pockets. This Legislature has opportunities to make family life more affordable, upward mobility more likely and employment easier to find.

We did this through targeted investments in education and job training. Iowa’s community colleges saw an increase in funding, nearly a 25 percent increase over the past four years. Families will find it a bit easier to afford the cost of college tuition as we have provided the funding necessary to freeze tuition at our regents institutions.

We focused on family-friendly tax changes, including the implementation of the taxpayer trust fund, a mechanism to return the overpayment of taxes back to the taxpayers. And after more than a decade of kicking the can down the road, we came together to pass historic property tax relief and reform that absolutely makes a difference for every Iowan.

We also fulfilled our commitment to provide strong budget leadership. It wasn’t that long ago when Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall, behaving much like they do in Washington, D.C. Iowans demanded change. In response, House Republicans outlined budgeting principles that have guided our decisions for the last four sessions. This included a serious commitment to a very basic and common sense practice - paying off the state’s debt. We should all be very proud that unlike Washington, D.C. we have stopped borrowing money and instead we are paying off our debts. A new course has been charted for future legislatures, one that puts hardworking Iowa taxpayers first, not the government.

In my opening day speech, I asked you to consider a few questions and let them guide you through this session. Are we offering Iowa families 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?

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the answer to those questions is yes.

Again, thank you for your efforts.

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Posted: April 18, 2014

This week in the House we continued our work moving the state budget through the process. We passed the Administration and Regulation (funds state government), Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (funds infrastructure projects throughout the state), and the Education budget bills to the Senate.

The Education budget bill, which passed with bipartisan support, contains funding for Iowa’s community colleges, state universities, and the Iowa Tuition Grant, amongst other things. Additionally, it included the funding necessary to freeze tuition for in-state students at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

The Board of Regents has requested $19.2 million for a tuition freeze. The bill increased funding at all three state universities; $4.5 million in additional money for the University of Iowa, $7 million more for Iowa State University and $7.7 million more for the University of Northern Iowa. The reason UNI has the largest appropriation is to address the disparity in funding. Currently, UNI receives $7,676 per student. ISU receives $8,765 and UI receives $13,126.

The work our state universities and community colleges do to educate Iowa students is second to none. As the cost of college continues to rise, a tuition freeze goes a long way to ensure Iowa’s students can afford to go to college without incurring debt.

Senate File 2347 also included:
$8 million funding increase for Iowa’s community colleges
$1.4 million increase to the Iowa Tuition Grant
$850,000 increase for Vocational Rehabilitation
Increases for: state libraries, private school families through textbook assistance, students making a positive life decision in Iowa Jobs for America’s Grads (iJAG), preschool students in early head start programs, and Iowa Public Television

April 13th was Tax Freedom Day in Iowa. This is the day when Iowans have finally earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year (including federal, state and local taxes). In my opinion, this is just sad. Iowans work way too hard to continue giving so much of their hard-earned paycheck to the government. I will continue to work to send more money back to your pocket. For more information about Tax Freedom Day or to see how Iowa measures up to other states, visit http://www.iowahouserepublicans.com/happy-tax-freedom-day-iowa-2

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please contact me at my office at (515) 281-3521 or by email at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov

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Posted: March 14, 2014

As I mentioned last week, House Republicans and Senate Democrats reached agreement on an overall general fund budget plan. Next year’s general fund budget will spend $6.9718 billion.

That represents 99.84% of on-going state revenue, staying true to the House GOP’s common sense principle of spending less than the state collects. This number also represents just 91.14% of the allowed amount under the state’s expenditure limitation law.

As a reminder this will be the fourth consecutive year the state will spend less than it collects. This is in stark contrast to the four years immediately preceding House Republican leadership in the Iowa House. From 2007 through 2010, Democrats spent more than the state collected in each of those years.

The agreement complies with House Republicans four budgeting principles:
We will spend less than the state collects;
We will not use one-time money to fund on-going needs;
We will not balance the budget by intentionally underfunding programs; and
We will return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers.

As part of the effort to not underfund our previously made obligations, House Republicans’ plan follows through on our commitments to offer $414 million in tax relief to Iowans.

This plan fully-funds the property tax credits including the homestead, elderly and disabled, military and agland tax credits. It also fully-funds the commercial property tax credit which was passed last year as part of the largest tax cut in Iowa history. We also continue to send money to the Taxpayer Trust Fund which is a direct payment back to Iowa taxpayers on their income tax returns.

House Republicans will continue to work to find ways to take less money from Iowa taxpayers and return more to their pockets all while following through on the budget promises we’ve already made.

Last week Best Buddies Iowa and Special Olympics Iowa joined together at the State Capitol for “Spread the Word to End the Word” Day. These young Iowans encouraged legislators, staff and visitors to sign their pledge to stop using the R-word in everyday language as it is hurtful, exclusive and derogatory. I was happy to once again sign their pledge and meet with the students in my office.

Charity, Angela and Tyler are pictured here with me in my office with their signed pledge. Best Buddies Iowa and Special Olympics Iowa are examples of organizations in our state that do a great job of serving our young people.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call my office at (515) 281-3521 or email me at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov

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Posted: February 28, 2014

This week in the House spent our time debating bills that had previously survived the legislative funnel. Most of the bills we considered passed the House in a bipartisan manner and were sent over to the Senate for their consideration.

One significant bill passed this week was House File 2253 which toughens penalties for those convicted of crimes against children, specifically kidnapping. This bill was generated after last summer’s kidnapping of Kathlynn Shepard and Desi Hughes which resulted in the murder of Shepard, who was 15.

The bill makes the crime of kidnapping a child 15 or under a class B felony and lengthens prison time for those who are convicted of this crime. In the Shepard case, the murderer was a convicted child kidnapper who was freed due to good behavior. Had this bill been in effect at the time of this incident, the kidnapper would have remained in prison and not been free to commit these heinous crimes.

I believe keeping Iowa’s children safe from harm is one of the most fundamental things we do at the capitol. While I am deeply saddened by the loss of Kathlynn Shepard and the trauma suffered by Desi Hughes, I am hopeful this measure will prevent this horrific situation from ever happening again.

The bill passed the House 94 votes to 3 votes.

Another bill we took up was House File 2275 which will prevent fraud, misrepresentation and inadequate documentation in the Medicaid process. This bill sets the stage to save Iowa taxpayers upwards of $16 million by preventing this fraud. It will also increase efficiency by reducing approval time from weeks to 48 hours or less.

This bill passed the House 86 votes to 12 votes.

Both of these bills now head to the Senate where I hope they will get a fair hearing.

As we continue to move through the session, we will continue to work on bills that are a priority for Iowans and will move the state forward.

You can watch an update I deliver to the press this week here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFDuXf91Ge0

As always, feel free to contact me on these bills or any others at my office at (515) 281-3521 or by email at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov

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Posted: January 28, 2014

This week Iowans across the state gathered together with their neighbors to participate in the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Iowans take great pride in the caucuses and are the best qualified to vet presidential candidates, but also set party policies and weigh in on state candidates.

I had the privilege of speaking at the Linn County caucuses. It was an organizational success and the enthusiasm shown by Republicans in an off-year caucus was remarkable.

As we returned to work, the budget process got underway in the House. The governor presented his budget last week and unlike his predecessor, Governor Branstad has again provided the Legislature with his budget proposal on the second day of the legislative session.

The Governor’s budget proposal is a good first step in the appropriations process, and House Republicans are once again committed to conducting a line-by-line review to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are wisely spent.

As we continue our review and discussion of the budget, we will continue to make sure each proposal meets House Republicans’ budgeting principles of:
• Not spending more money than the state takes in,
• Not using one-time money to pay for on-going expenses,
• Not intentionally underfunding entitlement programs to balance the state’s budget,
• And returning unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers;

Our state will continue to be prepared for whatever lies ahead.

As we have seen in the past, it only takes one undisciplined budget to destroy the progress that has been made. We must not retreat from our principles.

Please join Sen. Mathis and I this weekend for our forums – 9am at the Hiawatha Public Library and 10:30am at the Marion City Hall chambers. I look forward to talking with you in person and getting your input on this session.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns by contacting my office at (515) 282-3521 or at kraig.paulsen@legis.iowa.gov

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