The 2008 legislative session adjourned for the year last week with a fiscally responsible, balanced budget and continued progress in health care, education and good-paying jobs highlighted by Democratic Leaders.

“We produced a balanced state budget with a modest 4.5 percent increase over last year. Our state savings accounts are full and at the highest level in Iowa history. We have also repaid $263 million of the $300 million we owe to the Senior Living Trust Fund,” said House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque. “Democrats pledged to produce a fiscally responsible budget again this year and we kept our promise using sound budgeting principles.”

Murphy said evidence of the Legislature’s fiscal prudence is reflected in the fact that the State of Iowa’s savings accounts are full at $621 million, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. Iowa’s economy has also remained relatively strong with low unemployment rates, solid growth in personal income, and a thriving agricultural and renewable fuels sector.

“The 2008 session will be remembered for expanding access to affordable health care to the 44,000 Iowa children who don’t have health insurance today. We also reformed our health care system to improve the quality and affordability for all Iowans through initiatives like medical homes, electronic records, and wellness,” said Senate Majority Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs.

“I’m proud that we made good on our commitments to help middle class families. We expanded access to preschool for nearly every four year old and raised teacher pay from 42nd to 25th in the nation. We ensured that every Iowa child will have the skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy and kept tuition affordable for families,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines.

“Our goal to make Iowa a world leader in renewable energy is revitalizing our communities, creating good jobs, and improving our environment. We approved another $25 million for the Iowa Power Fund, passed new energy efficiency and conservation efforts, and provided $18 million for REAP,” said Senate President Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg.

“I’m especially proud of our efforts to help veterans and their families this year. We approved a job security bill for our national guard and reserve members, provided a $3 million annual funding source for the Veterans Trust Fund, and ensured every county will have a Veterans Affairs Office open at least 20 hours per week to help veterans get the benefits they deserve,” added Kibbie.

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