Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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Opinion

February 4, 2013

This Week in the Iowa House

Des Moines —  

Since the economic downturn that hit in 2008, Iowa's vibrant economy has helped build unprecedented revenue growth and surplus funds for the state.  We've generally outperformed the rest of the nation the last five years with a lower unemployment rate, quicker recovery, and fiscal discipline that has generated today's record surplus.

We laid the foundation for growth back in 2008 when the national downturn first hit Iowa and we've run a surplus every year ranging from $335 million in 2009-2010 to well over $800 million today.  I was serving in House leadership at the time and we made tough choices that have helped our economy over the long run.

Now that we're in a strong position, there are a lot of ideas floating around about what to do with these surplus dollars. We can't - and shouldn't - spend every extra dollar we have but we also can't over-promise on tax cuts that will put us in the hole a few years down the road, especially with a world economy still anemic and farmers perhaps facing another year of drought.

We've all committed to commercial property tax relief of some kind.  The Governor has recommended shifting $400 million from property taxes over to our general fund and spending an additional $149 million for education reform. House Republicans have proposed draining all of the surplus and using it for tax cuts.

While some of these ideas have merit, the reality is we can't do all of that.  We need a balanced, targeted approach that keeps our economy growing and invests in the middle class.

While there is indeed some room for tax relief, we can't ignore our critical needs either.  Our schools have been squeezed pretty hard over the last several years and are still struggling to keep up with rising costs.  Businesses are facing a skilled worker shortage right now and it will only get worse if we don't keep tuition at community colleges and our universities affordable.  The redesign of our mental health system also requires additional resources and too many of our roads and bridges are in need of critical repairs.

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Opinion
  • The Rules of the Road By Jill Pertler I do not consider myself an excellent driver. I am good, or maybe just okay - around a B-minus to a C-plus if I were giving out grades. I am not great at maneuvering into tight parking spaces or knowing when it is my turn at a four-wa

    March 21, 2014

  • Steve mug Creativity rules! I've noticed as a married man that there are times in our marriages when it is just nice to be right. Take for instance Monday night. By the time I got home from the council meeting, I was pretty hungry. I didn't grab anything to eat before my evenin

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Frankford mug Acute Temporary Comfort Rejection Syndrome By Phillip Frankford Acute Temporary Comfort Rejection Syndrome

    March 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shivvers pic 21st century overwhelm, beginning with shampoo I was in a hurry and needed only one more item at the grocery store. Shampoo. I wanted shampoo to wash my hair. But I found a hazard course - and couldn't remember how I got through the last time. What should I do? Would it be simple "anti-itch liqui

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Next time ... To the Editor: While surfing my Facebook page, I came across this message: "I Shall Continue To Do What I think Is Right Whether Anybody Likes It Or Not." -Harry S. Truman. After reading this quote, I decided to tell my experience. I was walking to m

    March 21, 2014

  • Protecting Iowa's children A topic that most Iowans prefer not to acknowledge nor discuss is human trafficking. However, it is a serious matter in our society that we can no longer afford to ignore. With the I-80 and I-35 corridors that crisscross our state - and the I-29 corr

    March 6, 2014

  • Letter: Disagrees with Shivvers To the Editor: I read, with interest, Ms. Shivvers' comments in her opinion piece "Another View-Breaking Bad in Iowa" in the Feb. 14, 2014, edition of the Knoxville Journal-Express. It is the first time I have heard today's agriculture compared to th

    March 6, 2014

  • Slices of Life: Things we should do more often By Jill Pertler Live. Love. Laugh. Stop and smell the roses. See the glass as half full. Shoot for the moon. There are the familiar (cliché) activities we know we should engage in more often. But, for those of us not wanting to be cliché, there are

    March 6, 2014

  • Letter to the Editor-Bravo To the Editor: I'd like to take a moment and say, "Bravo!" to Charlotte Shivvers for her insightful column of February 14, "Another View - Breaking Bad in Iowa." Speaking truth to power happens rarely these days and when it does, it's cause for celeb

    February 27, 2014

  • Frankford mug Another Log on the Fire: Highs and Lows By Phillip Frankford I've heard it said that the mark of a good story teller is the ability to take the listener or reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. He or she will abruptly lead the way from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

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