Two weeks into the condensed 2010 legislative session and the pace of activity is moving rapidly. Most of the action this session will be in direct response to the state’s severe fiscal condition that has resulted from three years of fiscally irresponsible overspending by Governor Culver and legislative Democrats.



Already, the Legislature has passed and Governor Culver has signed a series of controversial education measures that significantly increases property taxes, continues the practice of using one-time dollars for ongoing expenses, erodes local control of education and stands in the way of improving student achievement.



In the coming days, the Legislature will begin full debate on a bill that has been advertised as a sweeping reorganization of state government. Since Iowa has a one billion dollar deficit, many have held out high hopes that this bill would lead to a major restructuring of government and help cure many of Iowa’s self-inflicted budget ailments.



Last year, Governor Culver hired a $300,000 out-of-state consultant to make suggestions of where the state could save money, even though many of their suggestions were already offered by Senate and House Republicans and rejected last session by legislative Democrats. These consultants also included several basic executive branch management adjustments. Had the Culver Administration done a better job managing state government, these adjustments would already have been implemented on an on-going basis.



At the conclusion of their work in Iowa, these consultants produced a report suggesting that Iowa could save $1.7 billion dollars over 5 years. Governor Culver and legislative Democrats were quick to say they would piece together a bill that would save the state $250 million dollars in this year alone with more savings in future years.



Since then, a few select lawmakers have taken the report of the consultants and have been working to cobble together legislation with the promise of re-organizing state government.



After independent and non-partisan analysts scored the nearly 250 page bill, they came to the conclusion that the savings will only add up to approximately $43 million dollars, a tiny fraction of the advertised savings that the taxpayers were told they could expect to see. In addition, many portions of the bill do not amount to a reduction in government– but instead amount to a re-shuffling of it. Several provisions also include new ways for the government to generate more revenue instead of finding new efficiencies or cost savings and other parts actually increase the size and scope of the bureaucracy.



Even as the Senate is expected to debate the bill soon, the authors say they plan to add a 200 page amendment, yet few know what that includes because it was created behind closed doors with little transparency, public comment or bi-partisan input. With debate looming, lawmakers and the public may not be allotted much time to read or fully understand the changes reflected in the last minute additions.



Even though the amendment nearly doubles the size of the bill, the authors were quoted recently in a Des Moines Register story as saying they did not expect it to double the size of the savings. Even with the expanded bill, the overall level of savings is still only likely to be a small percentage of what was promised at the outset.



Unfortunately, this is not the first time Governor Culver and legislative Democrats have made promises that they failed to deliver on. Last year when the governor and legislative Democrats put $1.7 billion dollars on the credit card to create I-Jobs, the governor’s temporary government make-work program, they predicted the proposal would create 21,000 to 30,000 jobs. Just within the last week, the governor dramatically changed his estimate saying, “I don’t think people should expect huge job numbers.” He later went on to hope that it would create hundreds if not maybe over a thousand temporary positions. A far cry from the promises made just a few months ago.



Like the I-Jobs proposal of last session, the government re-organization bill has so far not lived up to its advertised billing. What is the best way to generate cynicism amongst the citizens toward their government? Over promise and then under deliver. Unfortunately, a pattern is starting to develop with this governor and his allies in this Legislature.



Republicans are passionate about truly reforming government and getting it back on solid financial footing. We offered hundreds of millions in immediate cost savings last year and while most of them were voted down, we will continue to work hard to find savings, eliminate waste and offer innovative solutions that will result in a leaner and more efficient delivery of services to our constituents. While our ideas may not be voted into the bill, we will continue to offer common sense solutions and a fiscally responsible vision for the years ahead.



Though some aspects of the bill are a positive step forward, Senate Republicans believe we should continue to strive for fundamental, systemic reforms. Republicans will continue to offer our ideas in hopes of improving the bill because this opportunity represents a wonderful chance to not only reorganize but also reduce government. We believe it’s time to deliver on the promises made.



The taxpayers of Iowa expect nothing less.



As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at paul.mckinley@legis.state.ia.us



Paul McKinley

Senate Republican Leader

www.mckinleyforiowa.com

www.facebook.com/paulmckinley

www.twitter.com/mckinleyforiowa

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