Iowa lawmakers who returned to Des Moines Monday for the first day of the 2014 session were asked to recall the successes of 2013 and work in cooperation with each other going forward.
Those are typical themes for the first day of a legislative session, this one being the second half of the 85th Iowa General Assembly.
“This is Iowa, not Washington, D.C.,” Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, said during his morning news conference, about an hour before both the Iowa House and Senate gaveled in for the day. “We’ve proven we can work together.”
Iowa’s Senate is controlled by Democrats and the House is controlled by Republicans.
Branstad, who will lay out more details of his agenda in Tuesday’s “Condition of the State” address, said he wants to focus on reducing student debt, an anti-bullying bill, his “Home Base Iowa” initiative to encourage veterans to settle in the state and “a few others.”
The morning was given to speeches by the legislative leaders in each party, and that’s where some differences emerged.
The Republican speeches, given by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake and Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock, mentioned tax cuts and the business climate.
“We must explore income tax reform to put more money back in Iowans’ pockets, as well as make Iowa more appealing for businesses looking to expand or relocate in our great state,” Dix said.
Democrats, including Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs and House Minority Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown, focused on education funding and the minimum wage.
“Our budget is balanced, and we have record-high amounts in our reserve funds,” Gronstal said.
“Tomorrow, Gov. Branstad should step up and lead by proposing a modest increase in basic state funding for Iowa schools.”