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Branstad Gives Final Condition of The State

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On Tuesday Governor Branstad delivered his final condition of the state address in the chamber of the Iowa House of Representatives. The galleries were packed with people from all over the state as the he outlined the legislative goals of the 87th General Assembly.

Presiding over the first Republican trifecta in years, Branstad said “The 87th General Assembly brings new ideas, new dynamics, and new opportunities for Iowans”.

He laid out an ambitious agenda he hopes to accomplish during this session. He recalled since his re-election in 2010, Iowa has slashed its unemployment rate from 6.2% to 3.8%. While revenue growth has slowed in recent years, Iowa is still in the green, which is better than many states in this country that are finding themselves deeply in debt.

The Governor emphasized the resilience of Iowans in surviving economic hardships such as the Farm Crisis of the 1980’s. He credits the state’s recovery to diversifying industries and an “entrepreneurial spirit”.
He asserted that a major contributor of Iowa’s economic success has come from the state’s abundance of renewable fuels. The comprehensive new energy plan is expected to lower the cost of energy and make Iowa a leader in production. Iowa currently uses wind energy for 35% of all energy consumption, and he expects to reach 40% by 2020.

Governor Branstad assured Iowans that the legislature will put forward a two year budget prioritizing education, economic development, and public safety. No reductions will be made to education funding and he proposed no new property tax cuts.  This budget will lead to a growth rate of 2%.

He received a standing ovation from Republicans  ather he boldly proposed to defund organizations that perform abortions like Planned Parenthood. Governor Branstad asserted that the state will still provide funding to women’s health providers that do not perform abortions.

Branstad claimed that for decades, Iowa has been a national leader in education with a strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiative spearheaded by Lieutenant Governor.

Every public school in Iowa participates in the Teacher Leadership System. Education consumes the bulk of the state budget, followed by Medicaid, then wages and benefits for government employees. The Governor promised a $78.8 million increase in education funding, and said that the goal is to set the budget for supplemental state aid for both 2017 and 2018 within the first 30 days of session.
Along with quality education, the Governor said that Iowans can expect a better, more prepared workforce in the years to come. His “Future Ready Iowa Goal” would increase proper job training from less than 50% to 70% of Iowa workers. This will be achieved by offering more apprenticeships and work-based learning programs. There will be an increased focus on improving technology, especially in manufacturing. This will in turn lead to an increase in jobs.

Branstad believes that Iowa has some of the best hospitals and healthcare providers in the nation. He proposed a uniform healthcare system “similar to IPERS” that would reward those who take personal responsibility for their health. Medicaid providers will have an increased focus on health outcomes, while saving taxpayers $110 million under his agenda.
The state of Iowa has also been rated as having some of the safest drivers in the country. However, traffic deaths increased from 315 to 402 between 2015 and 2016. The Governor said that lawmakers will propose new safety recommendations and that Iowans should expect stricter laws regarding texting and driving.

The final issue that the Governor touched on was water quality. He said that there will be improved practices for drinking and wastewater treatment facilities, and that the water quality bill from last session is expected to pass. He also advocated for a nitrate reduction program so that Iowans will have cleaner water.

Governor Branstad concluded by expressing his gratitude to his family, the prayers of Iowans, and the relationships that he has nurtured in all 99 counties. He finished by saying that “There is no greater job than being the Governor of the state that you love”. Thanks to his dedication and many years of service, Iowa is in a great place, with a bright future ahead.
–MacKenzie Dreeszen is a legislative liaison and political consultant specialized in fundraising.