Condition of the State emphasizes pride, growth


Photo: Tyler Kingkade/Iowa State Daily

Terry Branstad couldn’t help but smile as he began his inauguration speech.

Tedi Mathis

Gov. Terry Branstad addressed the public Dec. 15 with his 18th Condition of the State speech as governor of Iowa.

“Iowa is currently in our best financial position in our state’s long and proud history,” Branstad said.

The rest of his speech focused on the idea of pride in the growth of the state, as Branstad periodically stated, “this is our opportunity, this is our Iowa.”

Branstad began his report by stating his “bold plan, focusing specifically on three goals.” The goals were to work on job creation and expanding opportunities for Iowa families, improving educational opportunities for Iowa children, and improving the health of our citizens.

The first part of the speech focused largely on reducing property taxes in Iowa for families and small businesses. “Businesses pay taxes, yes,” Branstad said, “but it is middle class families who truly feel the pain.”

The speech then moved toward education as Branstad explained the Skilled Iowa Initiative that ensures more workers are prepared for the workforce, and said over 18,000 Iowans have used Skilled Iowa.

Branstad also discussed K-12 education in Iowa, stating that the standstill in the education system, while other states continue to grow, is not the fault of Iowa teachers.

“Our teachers are stuck in a system designed for the 20th century,” Branstad said. “Elevating the teaching profession is at the heart of our 2013 education plan.”

The plan’s main goal is to create incentive for top students to stay in Iowa to teach, rather than move out of state after finishing their secondary education. The plan is known as the Teach Iowa Initiative.

The initiative works by offering tuition reimbursement to students who teach in Iowa schools for five years, as well as expanding the traditional semester of student teaching to a yearlong apprenticeship.

Incentive would also be provided by boosting the beginning salary for teachers in Iowa from $28,000 to $35,000 annually.

“My desire is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation,” Branstad added for his third and final point in the speech.

“We have an opportunity to make Iowa communities vibrant by ensuring they have the health care professionals they need to keep their residents healthy,” Branstad said.

Branstad suggested several medical initiatives to improve health in Iowa, including adding money to residence programs in Iowa and launching rural physician loan repayment programs.

The Condition of the State concluded when Branstad said, “Iowa is well-positioned for unprecedented growth.”