Greetings to you all!
Greetings to you all!
Unlike other states, Iowa has faced a double whammy this year. Record flooding and devastating storms hit our state this summer. Then, this fall, the national financial crisis moved into Iowa. Fortunately, Iowa was prepared for this disaster thanks to the fiscal discipline maintained over the past two years by the Legislature. Before adjourning last session, the Legislature made sure the state’s two rainy day funds were filled to their statutorily required limit. These savings accounts are full at the maximum level of $620 million. This is an all time high amount in our savings accounts and this cushion should help us weather this economic downturn. This does not mean that there will not be tough decisions to make. There will be. Like any family, Legislators in 2009 will have to revisit the current budget and make adjustments in spending to reflect the changing economic picture.
Even financial experts recognize our fiscal responsibility as Iowa's credit rating was upgraded this fall from AA+ to AAA. The upgrade was the result of Iowa’s stability, according to Standard and Poors, the continuing diversification of our economy, and our commitment to the rainy day fund. Standard and Poors report said: "Other credit factors are, in our view, the state's good fiscal management with a demonstrated willingness to restrain spending and make midyear corrections to maintain fiscal integrity; strong financial operations, supported by quarterly financial forecasts and rainy day reserves; good income levels; and very low debt burden." This upgrade to “AAA” makes Iowa just one of eleven states to receive this high rating. We will have to make some tough decisions but Iowa has $620 million in the bank to help us weather this financial crisis. Even national financial experts such as Standard and Poors upgraded Iowa’s credit rating due to our restraint in spending, willingness to make midyear corrections to maintain fiscal integrity, our rainy day funds and our very low debt level.
Iowa is one of seven states recently selected by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) to participate in a Policy Academy designed to help states develop an action plan and implementation strategy around improving energy use in buildings. One of the easiest things that we can do right now is to help improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy in buildings. Iowa’s selection for this academy demonstrates Iowa’s leadership in moving the United States towards energy independence. Investments in building energy efficiency are proven ways to save money and create good paying jobs right here in Iowa.
The state of Iowa is leading by example through the Green Government Initiative, established by Executive Order Six. State agencies are collaborating to set energy efficiency goals and to implement the programs with specific focus on utilizing sustainable materials and energy excellent buildings. The state is also developing the Be Smart program, which will offer assistance to public buildings to become more energy efficient. Buildings consume more energy than any other sector of the U.S. economy and account for nearly three-quarters of electricity generation, approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, and large amounts of onsite fuel use. While states have made great strides in improving energy efficiency and increasing reliance on renewable resources in both new and existing buildings, many cost-effective opportunities remain untapped because of market and policy barriers.
The states selected were Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Utah and Wisconsin, and were chosen to participate in the Policy Academy through a competitive process open to all states and U.S. territories. The states selected identified existing energy challenges specifically related to the state’s building stock, described the potential benefits and expected outcomes of participation in the Academy, and identified high-level state teams to participate throughout the project. To learn more about states’ efforts to improve energy efficiency, please visit www.nga.org/center/eenr.