By The Gazette Editorial Board
Much of Gov. Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State speech Tuesday was welcome. It was upbeat, with a bipartisan tone, and it offered several proposals that we doubt will be opposed by many in this year’s legislative session.
The governor’s declared centerpiece is the Home Base Iowa Act to assist veterans and their families and keep them in Iowa. It proposes exempting military pensions from state income tax, granting automatic in-state tuition at community colleges (the Regents universities already do so), directing state licensing boards to allow credit for military training and experience toward getting a license in various occupations, and increasing assistance toward buying a home. No argument with helping veterans move successfully into civilian life and careers.
We think the governor also scored points by proposing to triple support for apprenticeships to shore up the skills gap and get more Iowans into better jobs. Ditto for calling on legislators to freeze tuition at state universities by providing more state money and reminding them of commitments to K-12 schools and education reforms approved last year. And we’re curious to learn more about how he wants to repurpose the Iowa Communications Network as part of expanding broadband access in underserved areas.
We also think Gov. Branstad — in his fifth term with solid support in the polls and his likely campaign for re-election well funded — missed opportunities to be bolder. He said nothing about the state’s critical shortfall of money for roads and bridges. Nothing about gaps in the mental health care system reform. No reference to the increasing number of Iowans in poverty.
So, a positive, but safe speech. The “Iowa Dream” the governor referenced still needs work this session.
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