A few more reactions to Gov. Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State address.
The Quad-City Times credits the governor for his very specific objectives, including education reform:
Branstad elevated his education goals by defusing a bomb: “Let me be perfectly clear to the teachers here today and teachers in classrooms across Iowa, you are not the problem.”
He proposes a 25 percent increase in the average pay for new teachers, “to help reduce the amount of financial sacrifice high-achieving students have to make in order to choose to enter the teaching profession.”
That’s right. Our governor said out loud that Iowa requires incentives to encourage the best and brightest students to forgo more lucrative careers in favor of teaching. It’s the same strategy for excellence the governor demonstrated last year by boosting the pay of his top department heads.
The Register editorial board credits Branstad with a “good starting point” but questions his health care objectives:
In his health care initiative, the governor again talked about making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, but he was not clear how that will happen. There is little the state can do about lifestyle choices that lead to poor health, especially for people who lack health insurance.
Yet, Branstad opposes adding 150,000 low-income Iowans to the Medicaid program, which Congress expanded and will mostly pay for in the Affordable Care Act. It is hard to see how Iowa can hope to become the healthiest state in the nation until every Iowan has reasonable access to health care.
Craig Robinson says Branstad’s property tax relief message is strong:
Branstad makes a strong case as to why property tax reform is needed. In the budget briefing, David Roederer, the Director of the Office of Management, explained that property that payments have increased by 54 percent in the last ten year, but will jump an additional 47 percent in the next eight years if something is not done. The Branstad plan would limit that growth to 22 percent.
Branstad is not going to have much opposition on property tax reform from Republicans, but some legislators would rather see an income tax cut instead. With Democrats already announcing their opposition to Branstad’s property tax plan, getting an income tax cut through the Iowa Senate seems impossible. Still, Branstad will need to get all Republicans singing off the same piece of music if he expects his proposal to make it to his desk.
Bleeding Heartland wishes the governor had mentioned child poverty:
I find it disappointing that the governor didn’t say more about reducing poverty in Iowa and child poverty in particular. Better child nutrition would improve student achievement and go a long way toward making Iowa a healthier state. We have a record number of Iowans behind on their heating bills. Branstad talks so often about business tax cuts. Where is the sense of urgency to help the people who are barely getting by?
Kathie Obradovich noted how Branstad’s policy-centered speech drew less applause than usual:
It was a mostly silent Legislature that took in Gov. Terry Branstad’s annual Condition of the State address Tuesday. Applause lines in the roughly 30-minute speech were rare, and lawmakers mostly ignored the cues to clap.
That doesn’t necessarily mean legislators were dismissive of what they heard. Republican leaders were appreciative of the focus on tax relief and job creation, even if they don’t entirely agree on how to deliver it. Democrats, while wary of the governor’s spending plans, praised his remarks about helping to train more Iowans in the skills needed in the workforce.
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