Branstad announces final agenda

Gov. Terry Branstad announced (Jan 10) in his Condition of the State address – delivered at a joint session of the Legislature — a sensible plan of action for 2107. The governor’s vision for the year ahead and beyond gives a high priority to:

A budget that is balanced, stable and stays within five-year budget projections.

Building on the already robust growth in job opportunities for Iowans.

Strengthening the state’s education system through predictable, stable funding with a modest increase in state financial support.

Enhancing readiness of Iowans for success in the 21st-century world by improving the availability of computer education in grades kindergarten through 12; emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; and increasing the proportion of Iowans who have post-high school education and skills training.

Continuing to shrink state government while increasing its efficiency through smart management.

Enhancing and expanding initiatives to improve water quality.

Reducing the growing number of deaths on the state’s roads in part by cracking down on distracted driving due to cellphones and other mobile devices.

Accomplishing major progress in each of these areas is achievable in 2017 and 2018 in part because for the first time since Branstad reclaimed the governor’s chair, Republicans control both houses of the Legislature.

Here is just some of what the governor says has been accomplished in the last six years:

• $13.5 billion in private-sector capital investment has been attracted to Iowa leading to robust job growth.

• The Hawkeye State has among the nation’s soundest budgeting approaches. It has been ranked near the top of the 50 states in terms of its management prowess.

• The cash reserve and economic emergency accounts are in good shape.

• Iowa is a national leader in renewable energy use with 35 percent of its electricity being generated from wind and on course for that percentage to reach more than 40 percent by 2020.

“Our state is in an admirable position. Many states are strapped with crushing debt, poor credit ratings and a bleak economic outlook,” Branstad said. “But Iowa is a shining example of what hard work and smart, tough choices can do for growing businesses and nurturing families.”

The progress that has been made with Branstad at the helm has set the stage for even greater achievements. Iowa is well-positioned to address the areas the governor has set as priorities because he and his team have been innovative and skillful managers of the state government.

After 22 years as governor, Branstad is about to move from the domestic scene to serving our nation internationally as the U.S. ambassador to China. His talents will make a huge contribution as America strives to improve its relationship with the world’s most populous nation and second-largest economy. Fortunately, the state’s top job will be in excellent hands when Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds succeeds him.

The Times-Republican applauds Branstad for his hard work and commends him for the vision shown in his address. He is not only Iowa’s — and America’s — longest-serving governor but also one of its best. The governor has challenged the state’s lawmakers — indeed implored all Iowans — to work innovatively so that the future of the Hawkeye State will be splendid. His tenure has helped make that possible.