UPDATE: Branstad hits the road to tout property tax, education r - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Branstad hits the road to tout property tax, education reform plans


In Sioux City just two days after his "condition of the state" speech, Iowa governor Terry Branstad is talking about his plans to reduce property taxes, and raise teacher pay.

If Governor Terry Branstad's top two priorities sound familiar, they should. Last session, Branstad pitched plans to reform both property taxes, and the state's education system. Lawmakers didn't fund education reform, and couldn't pass the property tax plan. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "What we found last time was some resistance from local governments. There was concern about the state fully reimbursing them for the reduction in the property tax."

This time around, both efforts are different. The 40% property tax cut, which was promised to only commercial and industrial property owners last year, would lower everyone's property taxes by 20% over 5-years if passed this session. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "Our property taxes are too high, and they do hurt when we're trying to attract business and jobs to our state. This is one of the best things we can do to continue to grow the economy."

The surplus will allow the state to fully reimburse local communities, which stand to lose that tax revenue. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "We've got our fiscal house in order, and put ourselves in one of the strongest financial positions it has ever been in. We have the resources to replace this at local level."

The money will also help fund a $187-million education plan. The largest piece would raise starting teacher pay by $7,000. The goal? Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, (R) Iowa says, "Increasing student achievement, and making sure kids are college and career ready when they graduate from high school. That starts with having a great teacher in every classroom, and a great principal in every building."

The administration's education plan wouldn't just raise starting salaries, but also offer tuition reimbursement for top students who commit to teaching in Iowa for 5-years. Standing in the way is something called "sequestration". Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "We're gonna have to make some tough choices, and we're trying to be ready to deal with it." On March 1st, automatic spending cuts take affect, which would eliminate about 100-billion dollars from the federal budget in 2013. Branstad says Iowa gets "significant dollars" from the government. And, he's already planning for some cuts. Gov. Terry Branstad, (R) Iowa says, "We anticipate we are going to see some federal funds reduced."

Even before "sequestration", the federal government has already cut Iowa's Medicaid funding by $57-million, next year.

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