Rozenboom Report (3/27/2014)
by Ken Rozenboom
While Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and an Iowa delegation attended the unveiling of the Norman Borlaug statue Tuesday in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, several Republican state senators paid tribute to the Iowan at the Iowa State Capitol. Tuesday, March 25 would have been Dr. Borlaug’s 100th birthday. He died at the age of 95 in 2009.
Dr. Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. The Cresco, Iowa, native is considered a pioneer in the green revolution, credited for saving more than one billion people from hunger when he created a disease-resistant, high-yielding type of wheat. Dr. Borlaug introduced the “miracle wheat” in 1960 to India and Pakistan. Historians said his innovative work helped stamp out famine and starvation. This started the greatest period of food production and hunger reduction in history.
At the time of his death, Dr. Borlaug’s children said, “We would like his life to be a model for making a difference in the lives of others and to bring about efforts to end human misery for all mankind.”
Iowa lawmakers voted in 2013 to have Dr. Borlaug’s likeness replace the statue of James Harlan in Statuary Hall. Iowa has two statues on display at the U.S. Capitol. Harlan, a former senator, had been placed in the U.S. Capitol for nearly a century. The second statue honors former Iowa Governor Samuel Kirkwood, who also served in the U.S. Senate and as U.S. Interior Secretary.
Today, Dr. Borlaug is still remembered across Iowa. The World Food Prize, which he helped create in 1986, is an international recognition to honor those making advancements in improving the quality and quantity of the food supply across the globe. The organization’s headquarters is located in Des Moines. An Iowa City elementary school bears Dr. Borlaug’s name. And now, a remarkable statue stands tall in the United States Capitol to remember a great Iowan who spent his life to make sure others could live theirs.
The 2014 Legislative session is winding down, but there are several key issues to discuss before adjourning. One of those is voting on the individual budget bills. Several weeks ago, the House and Senate offered joint budget targets. The proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget is an increase of 7.4 percent over the FY2014 budget, more than double the historic revenue growth of 3.6 percent.
The Senate will begin voting on budget bills in the coming days. You may be assured that Senate Republicans will stand up for the taxpayers. It’s unacceptable to me that the 7.4 percent increase is nearly twice as much as what Iowa family budgets grow annually.
On the positive side, the Revenue Estimating Conference met last week and the March estimates for FY 2014 and FY 2015 remain unchanged compared to the December estimates. The anticipated growth for FY 2015 compared to the estimate for FY 2014 is 4.5 percent. The ongoing revenues remain at $6,983.2 million. Ongoing revenues after adjusting for the military pension tax elimination are $6,974 million, with spending targets set at $6,971 million.
Though the revenue estimates remain unchanged, this should not give Senate Democrats, who have a never-ending appetite for taxpayer money, the green light to increase spending. Please know Senate Republicans are minding the store and will fight diligently to ensure Iowans’ tax dollars are not spent frivolously in the next several weeks.
There are a couple of legislative forums still on the calendar for this year. I will be at Monarchs in Pella on Saturday, March 29 at 9:00 am, and at the Bridgeview Center in Ottumwa at 9:30 am, Saturday, April 5.