The Quad Cities Chamber today hosted Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who shared his Condition of the State address. Governor Branstad shared his thoughts on the Quad Cities Chamber’s top priorities and the steps needed to keep Iowa competitive in a global economy, particularly those related to education, workforce, and economic development.
PreK – 12 Education
Branstad weighed-in on the ongoing debate in Des Moines regarding school funding levels, particularly the amount of allowable-growth that will be funded. The Governor advocated for a 2.45% increase, which he thinks is what the State can afford. He also noted the importance of moving the issue along quickly, so that schools have some certainty to plan and budget with. Statewide, Iowa designates $3.2 billion of their $7.3 billion budget to Pre-K – 12 education, plus revenues from a 1% state sales tax to fund school infrastructure.
During the Condition of the State address, Governor Branstad discussed his proposal to extend 1% sales tax, which is set to expire in 2029, through 2049. The proposal would continue to provide the currently-provided SAVE funds as well as some extra revenue, and would divert much of the tax to address water quality issues.
Acknowledging that a well-trained workforce is key to future economic growth, Governor Branstad discussed the Future Ready Iowa initiative, a statewide conversation about how to close the workforce skill gap, with a goal that 70% of Iowans in the workforce should have education and training beyond high school by 2025. Governor Branstad and Lt. Kim Reynolds are hosting a series of Future Ready Iowa Initiative roundtable discussions throughout the state. They will be in the Quad Cities on Friday, April 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and members of the Quad Cities Chamber are invited to attend. More.
Managing a Balanced State Budget
Wall Street recently ranked Iowa as the 3rd best managed state in the nation. Branstad reinforced his focus on keeping the state in a strong fiscal position.
Focus on Economic Development Initiatives
A statewide focus on business expansion, retention, and attraction has helped spur new jobs and investment in Iowa. Governor Branstad touted the State’s past support for biofuels and wind energy as examples of success. He plans to work with the legislature to continue to support these initiatives, as well as create new sectors of growth by creating a biochemical tax credit.
Branstad also explained his transition of Medicaid to a Managed Care Program. Asserting that Medicaid costs will increase at the same rate as the State’s revenue growth, the Governor asserted the cost-savings from the transition is necessary to maintain sound fiscal policy.