Gov. Terry Branstad plans to sound themes of “working together and working hard” when he outlines his legislative agenda and spending proposals to a joint session of the 85th Iowa General Assembly on Tuesday.
“I’m really encouraged about this session,” Branstad told reporters during his weekly news conference on Monday. “I think we can see there’s a developing consensus to deal with a very-focused agenda.”
Branstad said he plans to spell out proposals to reduce student debt, expand job opportunities for returning veterans, offer high-speed Internet connections to every Iowan and combat problems associated with bullying in Iowa schools during his Condition of the State address.
Monday’s opening-day speeches by legislative leaders were laced with optimism about the prospects for bipartisan agreements that build on last year’s successes before hitting the campaign trail for what promises to be a hard-nosed 2014 election cycle.
“I want to make the best of it,” Branstad said of the new session of the split-control Legislature, where Democrats hold a 26-24 edge in the Senate and Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the House.
“I’m as encouraged as I’ve ever been,” the governor said. “Yes, we have a split Legislature but we’ve proven that we can work together and we can accomplish things. This is Iowa, not Washington D.C. We don’t spend all our time attacking and degrading each other. Instead we try to tackle real problems and try to make a difference in the eyes of Iowans.”
Along with charting his policy direction, the governor was slated to outline his spending priorities in the fiscal 2015 budget year. Lawmakers already passed large pieces of next fiscal year’s budget under the state’s biennial budgeting approach last session but a number of major decisions await resolution before lawmakers complete their 2014 work.Branstad’s speech will be televised live from the Iowa House chambers on statewide Iowa Public Television, beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday.