We enjoy hosting visitors from District 63
and from around Iowa:
Al Kakac Retires from the Iowa Army National Guard
It was a joy to honor Alan “Al” Kakac upon his retirement from the Iowa National Guard after many years of faithful service! Pictured are Margaret and Larry Wildeboer of Shell Rock, also retired from the IANG and my husband Matt Salmon who worked at AASF #2 for many years with Al!
Working on a Responsible State Budget
As the House continues on the path toward adjournment for this legislative session, our focus remains on passing a sustainable, responsible, and balanced state budget. Two budget bills have been agreed on and signed by the governor, but most appropriations bills are being considered in conference committees, where the House and Senate will work together to seek compromise on the differences between our proposals.
This past week the House debated the Health & Human Services appropriations bill on the floor. This budget provides funding for programs like Medicaid, mental health care, services for troubled youth, help for our seniors and veterans, and job opportunities for Iowans with intellectual disabilities. This is a $2.3 billion state budget with another $4.5 billion coming from federal dollars.
The bill includes an agreement that was made between the House and the Governor to allow services to continue at the MHI’s at Clarinda and Mount Pleasant through the end of calendar year 2015. During this time, DHS and the local communities will work to identify and develop new service programs through private providers that would be operated in those facilities starting in 2016. This is part of the Medicaid modernization effort to use a managed care model for the rest of the Medicaid program.
Also included in the bill is funding related to family planning services. Currently the state receives money from the federal government to provide these services in Iowa, but like most federal programs, when we take federal dollars it comes with strings attached and we lose control of how the program is operated. This bill cuts the federal strings tied to family planning services so that the same services are provided, but the state controls where the funding goes. Under this plan we will not be sending taxpayer dollars to organizations that kill unborn children, like Planned Parenthood.
Waterloo Christian School Patriotic Program
K-12 Vocal and Instrumental Music Director Bruce Nelson is retiring after serving faithfully at Waterloo Christian School for 26 years.
As our conferees continue working through each budget, we remain vigilant about sticking to our budgeting principles. These are the same principles we've insisted upon over the past four years that have served the state well.
Since beginning debate on the various pieces of the state budget, we have seen amendments offered that would increase state spending by over $165 million. We have resisted these proposals in order to ensure we do not spend more than the state has available. Living outside our means and spending one-time money on ongoing expenses will only lead to uncertainty, economic trouble, and decreased services for Iowans in the future.
With ever-increasing Medicaid obligations, a decrease in expected revenue for the next fiscal year, and maintaining our commitment to increase K-12 funding by $85 million next year, we have had to make some tough budget decisions this year. Additionally, we do not yet know the full impact the avian flu outbreak will have on the state's economy as it currently is affecting 45% of the state’s entire egg-laying flock. It is likely many Iowa families' budgets will be affected and there will undoubtedly be an impact on the state through tax revenue. For all of these reasons, it is now more important than ever to pass a sustainable budget plan.
As we move forward, we will continue to work with the Governor and Senate to pass the most responsible and commonsense state budget for Iowans.
Gov. Bobby Jindal
At the GOP Lincoln dinner, Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal explained 2 major threats to the American dream: radical Islamic terrorism and the assault on liberties, especially religious liberty. As we defeat those threats he encouraged that America’s best days are ahead.
House Passes First-Time Homebuyer Tax Incentives
The House has passed House File 631 by a vote of 91-7. This bill is called the Iowa First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Act and is an effort to incentivize young people to save and plan for the single biggest purchase of their life—their first home.
Specifically, the bill provides for the establishment of a first-time homebuyer savings account. The account holder must be a resident of Iowa. An account can be established individually or jointly with a spouse so long as both individuals are first-time homebuyers. The bill requires that the account be an interest-bearing account.
House File 631 also spells out the use and administration by the account holder. It states that the account holder shall use the money for eligible costs related to the purchase of a residence within ten years following establishment of the account and shall not contribute to the account for longer than ten years. There is no limitation on the amount of contributions that may be made to or retained in the account. The burden of proving that a withdrawal from an account was made for eligible costs is upon the account holder. The bill also provides that a person who knowingly prepares false statements associated with an account is guilty of a serious misdemeanor.
Dr. Ben Carson
Also a Republican presidential candidate featured at the GOP Lincoln dinner, world-renowned pediatric surgeon Dr. Ben Carson maintained that political experience isn’t everything but that it is necessary that a president understand everyday Americans and be able to solve problems.
Additionally, the bill provides for an Iowa income tax deduction of up to $3,000/year per individual ($6,000 for married couples) for contributions to that individual’s first-time homebuyer savings account. Amounts exceeding that limit can be carried forward for deductions in subsequent tax years (but still keeping the annual deduction limitations). No deductions can be taken after the ten year life span of an account has expired. (Maximum deduction for an account is $30,000/$60,000). As another tax incentive, House File 631 also provides that the income from interest and earnings on a first-time homebuyer savings account is exempt from income tax.
Finally, the bill spells out some penalties. For instance, if a withdrawal is made for a purpose other than an eligible cost, an account holder will have to add all of the tax deductions they previously took back into their taxable income. Additionally, if a withdrawal for a purpose other than an eligible cost is made on a day other than the last business day of the calendar year—such a withdrawal shall also be assessed a penalty of ten percent of the amount of the withdrawal.
We continue to look for ways to encourage young people put down roots in Iowa. Buying a home is a huge purchase—one that takes careful planning and considerable saving. With the tax incentives in House File 631, we hope that more young people will make Iowa their permanent home. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and GOP presidential contender Carly Fiorina said that big government crushes the potential of its people and its businesses and, therefore, of its nation. She pointed out that the highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential in others and that is what the president should do.
Feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts, and concerns. My phone is 319-987-3021 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear what you are thinking and will listen to your input. Together we will work to make a difference for the future of Iowa. Thank you very much for the honor of representing you!