During her time as a member of the Iowa Senate, Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst frequently published reports of the goings-on in the statehouse for her constituents. These updates took the form of articles in her local newspapers, the Red Oak Express and the Opinion-Tribune, and an online newsletter.
Large portions of many of these articles, which were published under her name, appear to have been copied word for word from templates sent as guidelines to Republican members of the Iowa Senate.
Other passages in Ernst's dispatches appear to have been directly lifted from Gov. Terry Branstad's 2012 "Condition of the State" address, a Branstad press release about a tax return deadline after flooding in the state, and language from a law.
An Ernst campaign spokeswoman, Gretchen Hamel, when asked for comment initially attacked Ernst's opponent, Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday after reviewing the material, the Ernst campaign said that as a state senator, Ernst and others used materials produced "for the express purpose of reproduction":
Joni Ernst is not a career politician, she is a part-time citizen legislator. Like thousands of other state lawmakers around the country, she has no staff of her own, and instead relies on caucus staff and party leaders to help with routine communications.
One of the chief responsibilities of the caucus staff is to provide talking points and draft op-eds for legislators for the express purpose of reproduction in their local districts. State legislators from both parties have have done it for decades, if not longer. In fact, Iowa Democrats do the exact same thing.
The examples cited by BuzzFeed are no different than what virtually every state lawmaker in the nation does, including Iowa Democrats. Despite BuzzFeed's every effort, there is no scandal here. It would appear that the only reason this is being reported now is because Joni is on the verge of winning an historic Senate race.
Republicans also pointed out that two weeks after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced the "Hire Now Tax Credit Act of 2010," Braley introduced the "Back to Work Act of 2010" in the House. Braley's bill uses identical language to the Reid-Hatch bill. He has cited his introduction of the bill during his campaign for Senate.
Ken Rozenboom, one of several state senators who published articles with text identical or nearly identical to Ernst's told BuzzFeed News that the common language was drawn from summaries of the week's events sent to members of the Senate Republican caucus by their communications team.
"Some of use them in their entirety, some use tidbits," he said, noting the summaries sent were meant to be used as guidelines.
Another state senator, Sen. Michael Breitbach said, "I write my own. I don't know what they do."
State Sen. Nancy Boettger reiterated what Rozenboom said, saying that caucus staff sent summaries and the legislators would often pick and choose what they would put in their newsletters, which often ran in local newspapers.
"The staff write summaries of things that are going on," said Boettger. "It's kind of a briefing. People pick and choose."
The use of these summaries in newsletters and reports from the senators that ran in newspapers appears relatively widespread among Iowa state senators.
Gregory Orear, the editor of the Red Oak Express told BuzzFeed News that Ernst doing articles from templates did not surprise him.
"I wouldn't be shocked," he said, to learn it was the same content others also used, describing Ernst's articles as "bottom of the barrel" content that was used as filler if they didn't have any other editorials to run.
"We never paid her," he said. "I would edit them and I would treat them as any other guest editorial."
"I'm sure some of it was cut and pasted," he added when asked by BuzzFeed News if he knew the template was used by a number of senators. "It'd be nice if she had her own thoughts in it."
The copied-and-pasted passages are part of a larger look into politicians, the written work that appears under their names, and instances of plagiarism that BuzzFeed News has found.
The bolded text in Ernst's column appears in columns from other state senators as well. State senators told BuzzFeed News the similar text comes from summaries sent to them about what's going in the capitol.
Here's Joni Ernst in her newspaper report:
In the Iowa Senate, Democrats passed a bill expanding the Medicaid program. The passage of SF 296 does little to address patients' well-being or the long-term implications.
Chronic disease and obesity are growing problems, and not enabling recipients to take ownership of their health care coverage does them a disservice and only makes the problem worse.
Participation in the broken Medicaid program has doubled over the past decade. Iowa has nearly 500,000 Medicaid enrollees.
If the program is expanded, it is estimated the Medicaid population will grow by an additional 110,000 to 181,000 recipients who have no personal responsibility for their health and no accountability for the care provided.
Iowans deserve affordable healthcare that focuses on outcomes-based solutions. Working to identify solutions to help Iowans lead healthier lives will reduce healthcare costs without saddling Iowans with higher taxes to pay for the unsustainable Medicaid program.
The Governor has proposed a Healthy Iowa Plan. I believe we should allow more time and consideration of his plan before proceeding any further with Medicaid expansion. I am sure there is a viable solution for all Iowans, and it will take honest, open discussions between the House, Senate and Governor's Office to find the right solution.
Here's Ernst in her newspaper report on propane prices:
I have heard from a number of constituents throughout the last several weeks regarding the prices of propane and it is a great concern to all leaders from our local, state and federal levels.
Propane prices more than tripled this month, skyrocketing from $1.30 per gallon to more than $4.30 during a 10-day span. The soaring propane prices have many concerned as this issue impacts our entire state.
The spike in propane prices throughout the Midwest is being attributed to several factors, including the extended cold weather, delivery issues and ag producers requiring more drying this fall than in previous years.
Researching this issue, we learned the propane supply was nearly five million gallons short to begin the winter season. A supply of propane exists, but not in the Midwest. With Iowa being located in the middle of the country, our neighboring states are able to get in line faster at shipping terminals – causing delays for Iowans.
Senate Republicans are working with Gov. Terry Branstad to try to find a solution. The Governor sent a letter recently to urge the U.S. Department of Transportation to expand the exemption to hours of service regulations to help ease the movement of propane to Iowa, which could help reduce cost and any other regulatory barriers in shipping.
The U.S. Department of Transportation granted the emergency declaration last Wednesday through Feb. 11. Exempting the hours of service regulations in Iowa and other Midwestern states will be advantageous for commercial motor vehicles providing direct assistance in support of the delivery of propane and home heating fuels. Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services not directly supporting the emergency relief effort.
Here's Ernst in one of her newspaper columns:
The 2013 Legislative Session kicked off this week with a lot of pomp and circumstance.
I was sworn in for my second term, and will look out for Iowa' s best interest, be a fiscal watchdog and help reign in overreaching government.
We heard many speeches outlining priorities and Gov. Terry Branstad gave his annual Condition of the State address.
The good news is our state is strong and the Governor outlined his three-point plan to help Iowa grow stronger:
— Provide property tax relief;
— Make Iowa schools the best in the nation;
— Improve Iowan' s quality of life.
These three items are a great place to start for Iowa on the road to overall success.
It' s important to know the road we traveled down in order to know where we're going and Gov. Branstad returned fiscal sanity to Iowa' s budgeting practices.
Times have changed and Gov. Branstad, through sound fiscal leadership, has filled Iowa' s coffers and continues to create a state budget that spends less than it takes in and protects our rainy day funds.
Like Iowa families, Iowa government has tightened its belt and will continue to live within our means. That sort of responsible leadership is good for all Iowans.
These sound budgeting practices will enable us to focus on things like restoring our education system to top-notch status.
We know that the education system needs to be reformed and student achievement levels need to be raised. It's time to move Iowa's education system forward and I am committed to working through that process to give our most important investment, our students, the leg-up they need to compete in the global economy.
Restructuring the education system will help produce world class students and world class employees for Iowa jobs with Iowa employers.
While the condition of the state is growing stronger, Iowa is in a great position to capture economic success. That means lowering the property tax burden across the board.
We have some of the highest property taxes in the nation. We have been feeling the property tax pinch for too long. We know we must remain focused on providing real tax relief that empowers hard working Iowans.
Real property tax relief will embolden businesses and provide job creation. The ripple effect will be powerful.
The next step is putting these plans in action. I will continue to work with my fellow legislators to diligently examine any and all legislation and make sure that it helps our economy grow, creates jobs, and effectively educate our children.
We've spent beyond our means and seen the disappointing repercussions. Now, we've tightened our belts and been successful.
It' s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The best is yet to come.
Here's Ernst in her online constituent newsletter, discussing the "Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy":
Nutrient reduction strategy has been a much-discussed topic this past week at the Capitol building.
I was pleased to see many of my local Farm Bureau representatives and US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. All were positively endorsing Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey's implementation plan for nutrient reduction.
The livelihood of Iowa farmers depends on responsible land stewardship, and Iowa has excellent practices in place to ensure we retain soil nutrients and protect waterways.
These practices allow Iowans greater control over land issues like nutrient reduction, and discourage the federal government from coming into the state and overregulating our businesses and agricultural practices. Iowa's agriculture-driven economy will continue to thrive as we develop innovative solutions to deal with our problems.
In 2011, the Watershed Task Force called upon the 12 states along the Mississippi River to develop their own nutrient reduction strategy. Working together, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences developed a proposed strategy.
The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based framework that was designed to assess and reduce nutrients in Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. It involves reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus loading to the Gulf of Mexico by 45 percent following the recommended framework provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. The strategy encourages voluntary efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point and nonpoint sources in a scientific, reasonable, and cost-effective manner.
Iowa's nutrient reduction strategy is the first time an integrated approach involving both point and nonpoint sources has been attempted, and Iowa is only the second state to complete a statewide nutrient reduction strategy. Iowa's commitment to responsible land stewardship and original responses to problems will keep Iowa's economy strong.
Here's Ernst, in the Opinion-Tribune, discussing education reform proposals emerging from the state legislature:
(Text in bold can also be found in Sen. Dennis Guth's newsletter to his constituents.)
Many of you know this year I serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Education Committee. Most of my time in this session has been spent reviewing the various education reform packages and feedback from school administrators, teachers, parents and other related groups.
Republicans and Democrats have struggled since 2011 to reform Iowa's education system. In that time, Governor Branstad has proposed legislation raising teacher pay and establishing a mentoring system for teachers, and Senate Democrats and House Republicans have each introduced their own versions of education reform. Each reform plan works to enable Iowa teachers to prepare students for the competitive job market and global marketplace.
Here are some key provisions in the proposed bills:
Online Learning: Both the House Republicans and Governor Branstad agree the Department of Education should set the fee schedule for public and nonpublic schools to participate in the Department's Iowa Online Learning initiative. They both appropriate $1.5 million for FY 2014 to help expand the program. In contrast, Senate Democrats establish the fees and set limits on the cost of administering the program rather than let experts from the Department set parameters.
Teacher Training and Development: All plans emphasize the need for more thorough reviews and teacher mentoring programs.
Teacher Pay: Senate Democrats and Governor Branstad would like to raise starting teacher pay from $28,000 to $35,000. House Republicans would like to raise the annual starting salary to $32,000.
The three plans have several similarities, but one difference looms large - the allowable growth rate. The House Republicans' target over two years is a 2% increase while the Senate Democrats increase the rate to 4% over the next two fiscal years.
Education reform is critical to ensure Iowa students do not graduate high school ill- prepared for college and the workplace. We need to provide incentives for Iowa's best and brightest to become teachers, give them the support they need to be good teachers, and compensate them well for the important task they undertake daily – preparing our students to compete in a global economy.
(Text in bold can also be found in the newsletters of Guth.)
Iowa taxpayers are plagued with headaches every year as they prepare their income tax returns thanks to our complex tax system. Senate Republicans have long been tax reform advocates and want to enact meaningful legislation that helps the taxpayer. This session, along with property tax reform, we are working hard to reform Iowa's individual income tax system.
Senate Republicans have crafted a bill that changes the tax code for the benefit of Iowans and enables hard-working taxpayers to keep more of their money. The proposed bill provides for a comprehensive overhaul of the Iowa income tax system giving Iowans a choice when paying their income taxes: either the current system or the new simplified system. Compared to current law, the proposed plan provides an overall 5 percent reduction in income tax liability in the first year of enactment, an overall 10 percent reduction in liability in the second year, and an overall 15 percent reduction in liability in the third year and beyond.
On average, a taxpayer receiving a decrease under the new simplified plan would see an average tax reduction of $360 in tax year 2014 and $517 in tax year 2015. In realistic terms that money means a car payment, school clothes, or utility payments for Iowans and would greatly ease the burden of a tight family budget. The new, simplified option available to taxpayers flattens the Iowa income tax brackets, eliminates federal deductibility, and gets rid of the itemized deductions by replacing it with a higher standard deduction.
If Iowa wants to continue to create jobs and grow the economy we must provide comprehensive tax reform that is fair and responsible. The Senate Republican income tax relief plan is a step toward true tax reform needed in this state.
Here's Ernst discussing a transparency bill, Republican attempts to put an amendment to Iowa's Constitution banning same-sex marriage on the ballot, and Branstad's decision to have Iowa join a lawsuit against Obamacare in her newsletter:
(Text in bold can also be found in a "Letter to the Editor" of the Dickinson County News by state Sen. David Johnson, and in Sen. Tim Kapucian's column for the Tama News-Herald.)
This week has been a busy yet exciting week in the Iowa Senate. It was a great honor this last week to be chosen to escort Governor Branstad into the House Chambers for his Budget and Program Address. Governor Branstad's budget and program presentation offered a bold vision to Iowans by making government more efficient, offering hope to job creators, and focusing on educational excellence, abundant growth and new jobs. My colleagues in the Senate and I have been working hard this week to ensure Iowans can begin to see the results of our campaign promises.
One of these issues we plan to deliver on is transparency. Senate Republicans believe more transparency and accountability is needed. If we can give our citizens new and inexpensive tools to see how their tax dollars are spent, we can begin to restore the public's trust in their government. A bill is currently moving through the House of Representatives that would begin to accomplish our goal of providing direct public oversight of our tax dollars.
House File 6 calls for the creation of a searchable budget and tax rate database that will compile information so Iowans will be able to readily access where and how their tax dollars are being spent. The information in the database will include records from all state departments and all three branches of government.
The Senate has also been working to give Iowans the chance to vote on a marriage amendment. While the House of Representatives is likely to pass their marriage amendment with bi-partisan support next week, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal continues to obstruct every attempt Senate Republicans have made to allow Iowans a chance to vote on a Constitutional amendment. One man should not stand in the way of hundreds of thousands of Iowans getting their say at the ballot box.
Even though Iowans do not yet have a vote, they can voice their opinion by attending a public hearing in the Iowa Capitol on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 6:30 pm. If you would like to speak at the hearing, contact the Legislative Information Office at 515-281-5129.
In addition to the Legislature's work, the Governor also took a serious step forward in responding to the people of Iowa. Last week, Governor Branstad, on behalf of Iowa taxpayers, signed on to Florida's federal health care lawsuit. Our state is now joining 27 other states in this effort, including Virginia, which filed their own lawsuit.
The lawsuit challenges the individual mandate that is a large portion of Obamacare. This portion would force Iowans to buy the federal government's mandated health insurance, as well as the Medicaid expansion that is costly to states, with its "one-size-fits-all" Medicaid approach that forces states to cut other critical programs.
I wholeheartedly applaud the action Governor Branstad has taken against this fiscally irresponsible and increasingly unpopular legislation.
(Text in bold can also be found in the newsletters of several other senators, including Segebart.)
As a former county commissioner of elections, election integrity is extremely important to me, and it should be to you. Elections in recent history at the state and federal level have been won by as few as 1 and 2 votes. Allowing ineligible persons to cast a ballot in Iowa elections is unacceptable.
This week my colleagues and I offered a common sense solution to voter fraud in Iowa. I co-sponsored and floor-managed an amendment offered to the standings bill requiring a person to provide proof of identity to a precinct election official on Election Day before being allowed to vote. For example, it allows students to use their school ID as long as it bears an expiration date. The legislation lays out alternatives to the photo ID option, allowing voters to bring someone with a photo ID to attest to their identity to a precinct election official on Election Day.
Further, voters may vote provisionally on Election Day, if they do not have the proper documentation. The person casting a provisional ballot completes a statement of validity and an acceptable form of identification must be presented before the ballot is counted. The bill maintains current law allowing voter registration on Election Day, or in person, when voting early, provided they establish proof of identity and proof of residency.
Voter ID measures are meant to provide Iowans with greater confidence in casting their vote. Voter fraud in Iowa is a growing concern and has the potential to skew election results and damage the integrity of our election system. I believe any amount of voter fraud is unacceptable and should be stopped. Our voters recognize the value of having a fair and protected election system in place that allows citizens to cast their ballot without worry.
My colleagues and I are committed to strengthening our election process and providing Iowans a protected voting system in which every vote counts. Senate Democrats are not concerned with the integrity of Iowa's election system as evidenced by the fact this legislation was voted down along party lines, even when we included alternatives to the photo identification requirement. The voting process in Iowa is too important to not have a voter ID measure in place and voter ID legislation is a common sense solution to the problem.
Here's the Iowa Senate Republicans' blog, celebrating that Iowa had beat out Illinois for a big new fertilizer plant:
On Wednesday, it was announced that Iowa will be home to a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant. The project is being awarded up to a total of $110 million in state tax credits as part of a package to bring the company's project to Iowa and address Iowa's high commercial property tax rates.
Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries will produce ammonia, urea and other nitrogen fertilizers to sell to Midwestern farmers at the new plant. The Iowa Farm Bureau estimates the facility could save Iowa farmers upwards of $740 million annually due to lower fertilizer transportation costs. In addition to the benefit for Iowa's farmers, the plant will provide 165 permanent jobs and 2,500 construction jobs.
The competition to land this project was stiff. In May, the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would provide an estimated $150 million in tax credits to the project. However, Governor Branstad and the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board used the tools available to put together a package that was a better fit. Coupled with Iowa Republicans' commitment to address Iowa's uncompetitive commercial property tax rates, the governor's incentive package proved to be the right fit for the new facility.
The announcement earlier this month that Iowa will be home to a new $1.4 billion fertilizer plant was welcome news not only for Southeast Iowa where the facility will be located, but the entire state. Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries will produce ammonia, urea and other nitrogen fertilizers to sell to Midwestern farmers at the new plant, which is the largest capital investment project in Iowa's history. The Iowa Farm Bureau estimates the facility could save Iowa farmers upwards of $740 million annually due to lower fertilizer transportation costs. In addition to the benefit for Iowa's farmers, the plant will provide 165 permanent jobs and 2,500 construction jobs.
In other instances Ernst appears to lift text directly from a variety of sources.
Here's the final report from the rules and regulations tour, a joint tour held by Iowa Senate Republicans, House Republicans, and the Branstad administration. Ernst is a Senate Republican.
It is our recommendation that we require regulatory analysis of all administrative rules for their impact on the private sector and job creation.
• Though Governor Branstad has instituted this important jobs impact analysis policy through Executive Order, we believe it should be added to the Code of Iowa to ensure it is carried out regardless of who is the governor.
And here's Ernst writing about the tour in a column, "Stopping to give thanks":
For instance, it is our recommendation that we require regulatory analysis of all administrative rules for their impact on the private sector and job creation. Though Gov. Branstad has instituted this important jobs impact analysis policy through Executive Order, we believe it should be added to the Code of Iowa to ensure it is carried out regardless of who is governor.
As I prepare to head back to Des Moines for the start of the legislative session in January, I want you to know that encouraging the creation of high-quality jobs throughout Iowa, especially in our rural areas, is a top priority.
I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving and I thank you for the privilege of serving in the Iowa Senate.
Here's a press release put out by Gov. Branstad's office announcing an extension of the tax return deadline for businesses affected by severe flooding:
Iowa Department of Revenue Director Courtney Kay-Decker has granted an extension of time for affected taxpayers to file the quarterly Iowa sales/use tax and withholding returns for the period ending 6-30-11. Those returns are normally due on July 31, but can now be filed by October 31, 2011 without penalty or interest.
The Director of the Iowa Department of Revenue is authorized by law to extend the period of time for filing tax returns and to suspend any penalty or interest associated with those returns for taxpayers whose principal residence or business is located in a disaster area declared by the governor. Gov. Branstad has declared the following six counties bordering the Missouri River to be disaster areas: Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, and Woodbury.
Information for nonresidents temporarily relocating to Iowa
The Department is receiving questions regarding nonresidents who temporarily relocate to Iowa due to the flooding along the Missouri River. Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions.
▪A taxpayer that moves to Iowa temporarily due to flooding would not be considered an Iowa resident for Iowa income tax purposes.
▪If a nonresident earns $1,000 or more in Iowa source income (working in Iowa), they would be required to file an Iowa income tax return.
▪Employers who have employees working in Iowa should withhold Iowa income tax on wages for work that is performed in Iowa.
For more information, please contact the Iowa Department of Revenue at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515-281-3114 or 1-800-367-3388 (Iowa, Omaha, Rock Island, Moline), 8 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. CT.
And here's a section in Ernst's column about rebuilding and renewal after the floods:
Because businesses in the flood disaster areas have been affected, Iowa Department of Revenue Director Courtney Kay-Decker has granted an extension of time for affected taxpayers to file the quarterly Iowa sales/use tax and withholding returns for the period ending on June 30. Those returns are normally due on July 31, but can now be filed by Oct. 31 without penalty or interest.
The Director of the Iowa Department of Revenue is authorized by law to extend the period of time for filing tax returns and to suspend any penalty or interest associated with those returns for taxpayers whose principal residence or business is located in a disaster area declared by the governor. The following six counties bordering the Missouri River have been declared to be disaster areas: Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, and Woodbury.
For more information, please contact the Iowa Department of Revenue at email@example.com or call 515-281-3114 or 1-800-367-3388 (Iowa, Omaha, Rock Island, Moline) 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. CT.
More than 2,500 Iowans will suffer from a brain injury this year. Brain injuries can be the result of something as minor as a fall on the ice or as major as a head-on car crash. Whatever the cause, brain injuries can result in physical, mental, and social changes. Brain injury victims and their families need proper diagnosis and treatment to deal with the daily challenges they face. The Brain Injury program works to improve the lives of Iowans living with brain injuries and their families by linking people with services and by promoting safety to prevent brain injuries from happening in the first place. A life may be changed by a brain injury but that life goes on and the Brain Injury program works to ensure that life is the best and most productive it can be.
Did you know? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says at least 50,000 Iowans are currently living with long-term disabilities caused by a brain injury.
More than 2,500 Iowans will suffer a brain injury this year. It could be the result of a fall or a car crash. I have seen this as an issue with Iowa soldiers that have deployed and have been impacted by a vehicle rollover or Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 50,000 Iowans are currently living with long-term disabilities caused by a brain injury.
Here's Section 1.a of Senate Filing 367, "An Act Concerning the Protection of Students From Concussions and Other Brain Injuries":
1. a. The Iowa high school athletic association and the Iowa girls high school athletic union shall work together to distribute the guidelines of the centers for disease control and prevention of the United States department of health and human services and other pertinent information to inform and educate coaches, students, and the parents and guardians of students of the risks, signs, symptoms, and behaviors consistent with a concussion or brain injury ...
Here's Ernst. She describes and mentions SF 367 in her column, but does not make clear words are from the law:
Earlier this year Iowa passed SF 367 to deal with concussions in school. It requires all schools to provide a concussion and brain injury information sheet to students and guardians. The information sheet is meant to inform and educate coaches, students, parents and guardians of students of the risks, signs, symptoms and behaviors consistent with a concussion or brain injury.
Last year we, like so many other states, faced serious budget challenges and unacceptably high levels of unemployment.
Eighty-nine programs were funded with one time money that was due to run out — to the tune of $900 million. In other words, it amounted to nearly one-sixth of our entire general fund budget.
More than 100,000 Iowans were out of work and seeking jobs and thousands more had simply given up hope.
My charge to each of us was simple, yet significant:
▪To restore predictability and stability to our state budget
▪To ensure our decisions were sustainable for the long term; and
▪To set the stage for a period of unprecedented economic expansion
Together, we took on these challenges–as Iowans always do.
And while the process was messy–as it always is,
And though none of us got everything we sought—as we never do,
We took the necessary steps to put the state's fiscal house back in order; ended our dependency on one time revenue; funded a balanced budget using on-going revenue; and passed a biennial budget that funds most areas for two years.
Here in Iowa, we are a model for the nation of how Republicans and Democrats can work together for the common good of our people.
Iowans deserve a budget that works, a budget that focuses on the essentials, a budget that reflects the character and ideals of Iowa's hard-working taxpayers, and together we delivered just that.
So take this moment, before the hard work of this session begins, and congratulate your fellow Legislators for a job well done as I congratulate each of you.
Last session Republicans took steps to get Iowa's budget under control. At the outset there were eighty-nine ongoing programs funded with one-time money that was set to run out – close to $900 million.
Republicans pledged to reduce Iowa's reliance on one-time funds for the support of ongoing programs. This promise was kept.
After years of overspending by Democrats, spending was brought under control this past session.
Republicans fought to balance our budget using only on-going revenue for recurring programs. In the process, we passed a biennial budget that funded most areas for two years – adding predictability to our budgeting process.
However, Republicans recognize the job is not done. We must continue to cut wasteful government spending and encourage systemic change throughout Iowa's budget to ensure future generations of Iowan's are not shackled by needless debt.
Republicans will continue to take the necessary steps to bring our state's fiscal house back in order by using a common sense approach to budgeting. We will continue our work that started last year and strive to provide Iowans with a budget that focusses on essentials and reflects the character and ideals of Iowa's hardworking taxpayers.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at email@example.com.
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