Three and a half years ago, I made the decision to run for the Iowa Senate. It is always a tough decision to put your name on the ballot to be voted upon by your peers, but I did so because I knew we could do better as a state. I was concerned that our state was going down the path of the Federal government, with a huge budget deficit and a large amount of debt.
At the time of my election, my wife and I had just had our first child. Ella was about 1 month old when I was sworn into office. My priority in the Iowa Senate has always been, and will continue to be improving our state for the next generation. As I head into the end of my first term, I am confident that we have made a lot of progress towards making Iowa a better place for our kids and for all Iowans.
We have completely turned around our budget situation, turning a massive budget deficit into a budget surplus. This has led to Iowa being named one of the best managed states in the country.
We have helped create an environment where Iowa businesses want to expand and new businesses want to move to our state. This has lowered Iowa’s unemployment rate from 6% to 4.2%, one of the lowest in the country. This creates opportunities for college graduates to stay in Iowa and obtain good paying jobs, helping to secure the long-term success of our state
Iowa has about $650 million in our rainy day accounts and over $850 million in our ending balance. With about $1.5 billion in reserves, Iowa now has one of the largest reserve accounts in the country, protecting us in these uncertain times.
We have been able to freeze in state tuition at the state universities two years in a row. This helps address the problem of escalating student debt for our college graduates, allowing them to pay down their debt sooner so they are able to invest their income in Iowa’s economy.
Most important to me, we have reestablished trust and predictability in our budgeting. The days of 10% across the board cuts due to fiscal management are gone. Cities and school boards can count on the state to fulfill its promises.
While we have made a tremendous amount of progress, there is still a lot of work left to do. I will be filing my paperwork next week to run for reelection to the Iowa Senate. I am excited about how far we have come, but even more about where we are headed!