By Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme
Medicaid Expansion Train Headed Down the Tracks
Last week in the Iowa Senate, Democrats passed a bill that would expand the Medicaid program. Participation in the Medicaid program has doubled over the last decade. Iowa currently has just shy of 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.
I believe that the passage of this bill simply throws money into a system that neither requires Iowans to take personal responsibility for their health nor provides for outcome-based solutions. Iowans deserve affordable healthcare; allowing our state to become beholden to the federal government by expanding a flawed system is not the answer. Working to identify solutions to help Iowans lead healthier lives will reduce healthcare costs without saddling Iowans with higher taxes to pay for an unsustainable program.
I believe we should allow more time to examine the Governor’s Healthy Iowa Plan proposal prior to making a decision on the expansion of Medicaid. I wish the Governor had his plan complete by now, but it is reckless and irresponsible to send the Medicaid expansion train down the tracks before we really know all of our options.
Revenue Estimates Not a Green Light to Grow Government
The Revenue Estimating Conference met last week to discuss the state’s financial situation. Senate Republicans were encouraged by the announcement that revenue estimates were up to $6.87 billion for FY 2014; however, they continue to urge fiscal restraint on budgetary practices and caution against growing government by irresponsibly spending the excess revenue.
A healthy ending balance allows Iowa to fulfill our commitment to fund the education system, provide health care for the most vulnerable, provide for public safety, and enable job creation. We need to make sure that we are cautious in our spending, keeping our budgeting principals in place. We should not be raising taxes while we have money available to fund important programs.
Senate Republicans believe excess revenue is an over-collection of taxes. We would like to see any over-collection of taxes returned to Iowa’s hard-working families. Iowans know best how to spend their money and tight family budgets will be eased if we are able to offer this money to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts or credits. Excess revenue should not be spent on new programs or expanding old ones.
The Senate Democrat budget spends 11 percent more than last year - roughly $100 million more than the state takes in on an ongoing basis. In addition, its budget uses one-time money for ongoing programs. The Senate Democrat budget and long-range plan to grow the footprint of government is irresponsible and unsustainable and not a sound plan for Iowa.
The Senate dealt with Education Reform this week. Unfortunately, those of us in the minority were excluded from real participation and a bill was passed on a party-line vote. The House has passed a different version, so the details must be hammered out in a joint committee. It is my hope that real reform would be enabled by including more school choice.
The highlight of the week for me was the March 28 Prayer Breakfast. I was glad to see that the 1,400 attendees included our Governor and Lt. Governor along with many legislators. We heard a strong message by Ravi Zacharias telling us that the ultimate test of a civilization is what we do with our children. Many in our culture desire to take away moral restraint. As Ravi told us, before you take a fence away, ask the reason why it was put there. As a father of five and a grandfather of two grandchildren, I fight to protect children from all bullies including those whose agenda goes against God and His idea of men and women.
After the breakfast, I joined a group of legislators that issued a statement that they would vote against funding a college that was using taxpayer’s dollars to fund a Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Questioning youth Conference. I cannot in good conscience vote to give taxpayer dollars to people or groups who distort the Bible, teach our youth to engage in dangerous behavior, and target individuals for hatred and bullying.