Iowa House Speaker talks 2018 session

Iowa State Capitol (Photo: Caroline Cummings)

In a few weeks law legislature will convene for the 2018 legislation session and a top Republican in the legislature says balancing the budget is among her top issues.

Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) said Tuesday that making sure that legislators balance the budget "correctly and efficiently" in January when lawmakers return to Des Moines is a key priority for her, the highest ranking Republican in the chamber.

“We need to get a little more conservative with that so we aren’t missing the mark. I don’t like promising people a budget and then having to go back and take that away. It’s hard for them, it’s hard for everyone," Upmeyer said.

This comes as a panel of budget officials announced December 11 that revenue projections fell short of expectations because growth is happening at a slower rate than expected. This could mean mid-year cuts to state agencies and departments when the Legislature returns.

Water quality is also on the agenda for Upmeyer, and her Republican colleagues and Democratic counterparts alike. Two bills passed the House and the Senate at the end of last session, but the chambers failed to broker a compromise to see one through. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hope they can pass some water quality legislation next session.

“We absolutely want to focus on this issue," Upmeyer said.

She says she supports the House's effort it set forth last session because it goes further than the Senate bill.

“We [in the House] went a little further on how that bill would look and how the resources could be utilized. So if we need to build more consensus around that, we can take additional time. There’s nothing to say we can’t have two bills,” Upmeyer said. Governor Reynolds has said she hopes water quality is the first piece of legislation that will come across her desk.

There's also room for bipartisanship in tackling the growing opioid problem in the state, Upmeyer said.

Some of her Republican colleagues in the Legislature have said tax reform is a top priority for them. Upmeyer didn't count tax reform as among her main goals, but welcomed the idea of visiting tax reform. How tax reform at the federal level shapes up is an important part of the process and understanding what Iowa can do at the state level, Upmeyer said.

She also stressed the importance of balancing the budget before taking any steps with tax reform.

“If there’s room to do tax reform, balance the budget, and still pay attention to Iowa’s priorities, that’s our goal, that’s what we’d love to do.”

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