DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Senate Republicans announced that State Senator Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, was re-elected as Majority Leader by the Republican caucus. State Senator Jake Chapman, R-Adel, was selected as Senate President replacing State Senator Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, who did not run for re-election.
State Senator Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, was selected as Senate President Pro Tem, and State Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, was selected as Majority Whip. State Senators Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville, Mark Lofgren, R-Muscatine, and Zach Whiting, R-Spirit Lake, were selected as assistant majority leaders.
Iowa Senate Republicans maintained their 32 to 18 majority after election day.
“And I think you see a great diversity of people from around the state, some that have been here a long time, some that are brand new. And I think it really shows the quality of the candidates that we’ve had the last few years that some of our younger members, Chris Kerry, Zack, they’re all just starting their third year and already moving up into leadership,” Whitver said during a press conference.
“We’re very excited about this new leadership team. The caucus is really fired up, very happy with the results of the election on Tuesday night. And I think more than anything; it just shows that the people of Iowa are fully supportive of the agenda that we have put forward, supportive of the leadership that the governor and the legislature has shown over the last several years. And I think it shows an appreciation of our economy still doing well, people getting back to work. And, and really, we feel that Iowans want us to continue down that path,” he added.
“And so we’re very excited to start this next legislative session to continue to build upon what we’ve done over the last few years. The pro-growth, pro-job economy-type issues that we have led with are paying off. Our unemployment is 4.7%. That’s as good as it ever gets with a Democrat administration, and that’s where we’re at right now in the middle of a pandemic. And so our policies are working, and we’re going to continue to push forward with those policies,” Whitver stated.
While the Republican caucus has not met to discuss specific issues and bills they will pursue during the 2021 legislative session, Whitver told Caffeinated Thoughts that tax reform will always be a priority for him.
“As long as I’m a leader, as long as we’re in the majority, tax reform is going to be on the agenda, we’ve taken several steps forward with our tax climate in the state of Iowa, but it’s not as good as it needs to be. And so we’re going to always continue to work on that. Mental health was an issue that we came really close to getting solved last year, and then we shut down for COVID, and the budget was in stress. That’s something we need to solve to mental health and then continuing to find workers and get workers the skills they need to fill the jobs that we have here. And I want to continue to grow,” he answered.
Much would depend on what tax revenue looks like at the beginning of the year.
“I’m really proud of where our state budget is, compared to many states, you know, there are states around the country that, frankly, are going out to DC and begging for bailouts because they’ve mismanaged their budgets. And here in the state of Iowa, that’s not the case. We shut our economy down for three months here in the state of Iowa and still ended with a $300 million surplus. And that’s a testament to a lot of great work and tough decisions over the last four years,” Whitver said. “And so while we’re in a strong position, we know we’re not out of the clear yet. We’ll have another estimate come out in December, that will give us a lot more information about our budget. But one of the things that I am concerned about personally is what income tax revenues look like in this budget year. We won’t know that until probably January or February. And so certainly, we’re watching it very close.”
Whitver was asked about the election, and he said there was no doubt President Donald Trump ramped up turnout.
“The turnout in the state of Iowa was probably the highest we’ve ever had. And for all the talk about voter suppression and all these election laws we’re working on, it’s nonsense. We had the highest turnout we’ve ever had. There’s no suppression going on. But what I think we saw that is really important across the state is election laws matter. And really, in Iowa, we have put a lot of effort into election laws to make sure that our elections are secure. We have voter ID in place. We worked with the Secretary of State to make sure those absentee ballots could get counted early and reported right away. And, and so those election laws have been very important. But certainly, President Trump performed very well in the state of Iowa, and certainly, in many parts of the state. It was a tremendous benefit for a lot of our candidates,” he said.
Chapman echoed Whitver’s statement.
“There’s no question that this election just demonstrated that Iowans support the Republican agenda. We have led on economic issues, you know, pre-COVID, we had one of the greatest economies that Iowa has ever seen and the lowest unemployment rate. And what I think our colleagues are very excited about is to get back to work and to improve our economy. We’re seeing it come back now five straight months in a row where the unemployment rate has dropped. And that’s going to continue to be the focus, but I’m just really thrilled and excited to be able to help lead this caucus,” he said.