DES MOINES, Iowa – The 2017 session of the Iowa Legislature will see Republicans take control of both chambers after a powerful series of victories in the November 2016 elections.
When lawmakers are sworn-in during ceremonies this month in Des Moines, Republicans will add six seats to the Senate, winning a 29 to 20 edge in the upper chamber. One Senator is a registered independent.
The fact this will be a very different Iowa State Senate is not lost on Democrat Rita Hart (R-Wheatland, Iowa).
"So it's going to have to be something we're all going to have to work together." said the Clinton County lawmaker who will become the Democrat's new Assistant Minority Leader. .
Senator Hart thinks voters sent Democrats a message in November about a weak economy.
"When people are struggling, when they're struggling to find jobs that pay well enough to pay the bills and to encourage their finances in a way that helps them to do a good job of providing for their families, then there's some unrest and they want change."
And that economic unrest is already being seen at the State Capitol.
The year ends with less money coming to the state than first projected: more than $130 million dollars less. And that means Iowa needs to make cuts.
"I don't think anybody's truly interested in across the board cuts."
"I don't know that there's any particular areas where we can say 'well, that's something that can go.'"
But budgets will be tight, for programs like social services, state police, and education. And the types of funding reforms Davenport Schools want to see may be tougher to get approved.
"I just think that when it's a really tight budget year, we're going to have to see and I hope we can do that. I hope that both sides come together and really take a good, hard look and make that happen."