Reactions to Branstad's Condition of the State address - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Reactions to Branstad's Condition of the State address

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

Branstad's Condition of the State address Tuesday evoked various responses from politicians and non-politicians alike.

"The Governor outlined a path to real property tax reform and relief," said House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha. "I am pleased that the Governor is strengthening the commitment to spending less and returning any overpayment to Iowans. If Democrats are willing, we have a real opportunity to work together and move Iowa forward."

Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, agreed with Paulsen.

"We look forward to tackling tax relief and education reform with Governor Branstad," she said. "He is listening to Iowans and providing leadership on the issues that we all care about. Given the governor's message and the message of legislative leaders, we have the opportunity to move forward with an efficient and focused session."

Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock said Branstad's plan was "good for all Iowans."

"Most importantly, Governor Branstad has returned fiscal sanity to our state budgeting practices," Dix said. "He continues to create a state budget that spends less than it takes in and protects our rainy day funds. Like Iowa families, Iowa government has tightened its belt and should continue to live within our means. That sort of responsible leadership is good for all Iowans.

"Senate Republicans agree, the tax burden on Iowa taxpayers should be lowered," Dix continued. "Certainly, property taxes are too high and should be addressed. We must focus on providing real tax relief that empowers hard working Iowans who pay their own bills as well as those of government, to create jobs, educate their children, and save for their future."

"There is broad agreement, Iowa's education must be reformed, and we thank the Governor for starting the discussion today. We will work to restructure a system that produces world class students and world class employees for Iowa jobs with Iowa employers."

On the other side of the aisle, State Sen. Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, said "there are obviously areas of agreement" between him and Branstad, but that he had concerns with how Branstad would approach health care.

"The absence of a clearly articulated way forward on health care as we undertake the hard work in health care is just astonishing," Hatch said. "It's hard to believe the Governor is dodging health care at this important moment, as we work to implement the nation's new health care law.

"We have been working on an Iowa model for health care reform for six years, and at points Governor Branstad has been an ally," Hatch continued. "He knows better than to say all we can do is recruit physicians and make it harder for consumers to recover medical damages following malpractice."

Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said Branstad's speech sounded "out of touch."

"While The Iowa Democratic Party agrees that Iowa has tremendous opportunity to grow, Governor Branstad's plan -- as he laid it out today -- continues to strike an out-of-touch chord on key issues that the majority of Iowans are concerned with," Dvorsky said. "Most notably, he failed to address ways to increase Iowans access to healthcare, he provided merely a status-quo approach to job creation, he did not discuss tax cuts for working Iowa families, and, perhaps worst of all, the governor offered a major retreat on the state's commitment to Iowa school children.

"In two years, Governor Branstad has failed to put forth a budget plan that adequately funds the type of environment which supports teacher development and increases student achievement," Dvorsky continued. "His announcement today that we do away with allowable growth only continues this trend of a sharp decline in funding for K-12 education.

"There are ways to capitalize on the full state treasury which would support Iowa's efforts to advance education policy and simultaneously grow the Iowa's workforce and, thus, support the middle class. If the Governor wants to retain students and create jobs, a stronger commitment to public -- and higher -- education is something the governor should consider as a core priority of his administration. So far his record on education has not matched his rhetoric and it sends a very discouraging message to Iowans about his commitment to advancing this issue in a meaningful way."

Progress Iowa, a 510(c)4 political advocacy organization, further slammed Branstad's speech, calling it misleading.

"Governor Branstad continues to ignore reality and mislead Iowans," said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. "Instead of making up statistics, the Governor needs to take responsibility for what is actually happening in our state. Wages for middle and working class Iowans are stagnant, and are likely to stay that way if the Governor's top priority is to falsify statistics to hide his broken campaign promises.

"Long lasting job creation must start with the rebuilding of our middle class, not just corporate tax giveaways," Sinovic added. "The Governor's plans are doomed to fail if he continues to put politics ahead of working Iowans."

Others were happy that Branstad mentioned specific policies in his speech. The Iowa Board of Regents commended Branstad for supporting Iowa's public universities.

"We are extremely pleased the Governor's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 includes the necessary funding to enable the Board of Regents to freeze tuition rates for in-state undergraduate students next fall," said Bob Donley, executive director of the Board of Regents. "This is a tremendous win for Iowa's students and families and the Board is committed to working with the General Assembly to ensure these funds are approved.

"In particular, the Board would like to thank the Governor for including the special appropriation for the University of Northern Iowa, and for continued support for the Regent Innovation Fund," Donley continued. "This fund is enabling Iowa's public universities to bring new technologies to market faster, as well as helping Iowa's communities reach their full economic potential.

"Finally, we are grateful the Governor recognized the importance of providing state funding for need-based financial aid to Iowa students attending the public universities. We will continue to advocate for a solution that allows the Regent universities to provide the assistance necessary to keep college affordable for Iowa students."

The Iowa Association of School Boards expressed a mix of thanks and concern over the appropriation of allowable growth in K-12 public education.

"While we appreciate his commitment to improving education, we are very concerned about his intent to delay establishment of the FY 2014 and 2015 allowable growth rates until the education reform package is adopted," said IASB Executive Director Tom Downs.

"School boards should not have to wait any longer to find out what their funding will be beginning July 1," added IASB President Patti Fields of Iowa City. "Budgets must be passed and certified by April 15; collective bargaining agreements have to be approved; curriculum needs to be purchased; and staffing decisions need to be made. Districts must have funding information in order to plan for next school year. Frustration with this process can be heard at board tables all over the state."

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey also thanked the governor for including $2.4 million and $4.4 million for agriculture water quality in 2014 and 2015, respectively, in his budget goals.

"Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds have been strong supporters of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and I appreciate them including funding to move forward with implementing some of the needed water-quality focused conservation practices in their budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. These funds, if approved by the legislature, will be used to educate farmers about the positive water quality impacts of a number of on-farm conservation practices and support the construction of these practices with cost share funding."

The National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy group, applauded Branstad's proposal for long-term property tax reform.

"Iowa's broken property tax system is the single biggest concern for small businesses and we're highly encouraged by the Governor's blueprint and his call for action," said NFIB State Director Kristin Failor. "There have been many narrowly focused attempts over the years but they've largely failed because they didn't deal with the whole problem. The Governor today proposed a much more comprehensive reform that doesn't shift costs and offers significant relief."

"There's a very sharp focus on providing relief to small businesses and industrial companies," Failor continued. "That's a very important feature and it's exactly what Iowa needs to be more competitive in a region where the states around us are moving very aggressively to attract businesses."

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