Gov. Terry Branstad delivered his Condition of the State address at the Statehouse in Des Moines Tuesday morning.
Branstad’s address was optimistic about Iowa’s future and focused on three main issues he wants the legislature to address this session: education reform, property tax relief, and making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.
Branstad talked about the successes Iowa has already had in job creation and economic development, but also mentioned areas where he still sees much work to be done; like education and reducing property taxes.
He plans to continue with the biennial budget plan for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, saying it has helped restore proper budgeting practices.
“As a result of the tough choices we made, Iowa is currently in the best financial position in our state’s long and proud history,” Branstad said.
Branstad also talked about the priority of reforming Iowa’s education system. A major component of his plan is raising pay for starting teachers and providing incentives for college students to choose teaching as a career – and stay in Iowa to do it.
The property tax plan proposed by Branstad fully funds the Homestead Tax Credit and the Elderly and Disabled Tax Credit in fiscal year 2014. Branstad is also proposing legislation to change the school finance formula. It would replace allowable growth with 100% state aid. Commercial and industrial property taxes would also be reduced over a four-year period by 20%.
Iowa’s health care system would also receive a boost through Branstad’s plan. It would provide $2 million for medical resident programs in Iowa and another $2 million to launch the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program. The money would provide an incentive to doctors to practice in rural areas of Iowa.
“While some states across this country are choking the opportunities right out of their states through over-taxation and over-regulation, Iowa is like a lighthouse, beaming a bright light of opportunity to those seeking a better life within our borders,” Branstad said.
You can read the entire Condition of the State address here.