I am excited, honored, and ready to get to work to represent District 51. Most of the first week is ceremonial, with speeches from Governor Reynolds, Chief Justice Cady, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, General Orr, and remarks from both party’s legislative leaders.

According to a recent study, Iowa is the third best managed state due to strong fiscal responsibility, a AAA credit rating, lower than average government debt, and a well-managed public pension system. Another study says that Iowa is the best state in the country for middle class families because of affordable housing, low college tuition and low child care costs. Additionally, our unemployment rate is at its lowest point in 17 years and we lead the nation in high school graduation rates.

The 2018 Legislative Session Convenes House Republicans have continually made K-12 education funding a top priority for the state. While other areas of the state budget have seen reductions in recent years, House Republicans have protected schools from any cuts during this time. Annual spending on K-12 is nearly $3.2 billion, accounting for 45% of the state’s entire budget. Iowa is fourth in the nation in K-12 funding increases.

There are still issues with the transition of Medicaid and we will be working hard to support patients and providers. In her Condition of the State address, Governor Reynolds acknowledged that mistakes have been made in the rollout of managed care but made a commitment to make it right. She has brought in new leadership to manage the program, with experience and expertise in managed care. Almost 40 other states are using managed care for their Medicaid programs and have successful programs. There is no reason Iowa can’t be successful as well.

House Republicans believe Iowans deserve a tax code that is simpler, fairer, and more competitive. Iowa has some of the highest income tax rates in the country, comparable to other states like California, New York, and New Jersey. Any tax reform we do will be focused on the middle class and looking for opportunities to make reforms that leave more money in the pockets of Iowa’s hardworking taxpayers.

Water Quality will be one of our first issues, as we left it unfinished last session. This is an issue I know is important to many people in the state, and I look forward to passing legislation early in session.

I am still working on my forums, but will have those in my next newsletter. As always, please contact me (Jane.bloomingdale@legis.iowa.gov) with any concerns, questions, or comments. I look forward to hearing from you.