On a statewide tour this week, Democratic legislative leaders said the Legislature will focus on helping Iowans rebuild and recover during the 2009 legislative session, which begins on Monday, January 12th.

“With the national recession beginning to take hold in Iowa, we know thousands of Iowans are struggling to make ends meet. Our goal is to provide more economic security for families through good-paying jobs, energy independence, and a world-class education for our kids,” said House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque.

Renewable and alternative energy have been the centerpiece of the Democrats’ economic plans since 2007 and the effort will continue in 2009. The bipartisan effort to make Iowa an energy independent state has included such initiatives as the Iowa Power Fund and efforts to improve energy efficiency. The result over the last two years has been 2,300 new “green” jobs for Iowans.

“While progress has been made, we know more must be done to help Iowans rebuild from the historic floods and tornadoes that hit our state last year. We will work across party lines and partner with local communities to expand our rebuilding efforts,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs.

According the Rebuild Iowa Office, more than $1.3 billion has already been approved this year for storm recovery efforts. In addition to providing the matching funds for local governments to receive federal assistance, the state has provided $40 million for the Jumpstart Iowa initiative for homeowners and businesses.

“The reckless fiscal policies in Washington over the last eight years have put great strain on families and the state budget. Iowans should know that we will make the difficult decisions necessary to keep the state budget balanced and work to strengthen the middle class,” concluded Senate President Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg.