Capitol Update: Week 1

Governor Reynolds gives first “Condition of the State” Address

At the beginning of every legislative session the Governor gives the, “Condition of the State Address.”  It was a historic occasion as Iowa’s first female Governor, Kim Reynolds, gave the speech to a joint meeting of both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate.  She spoke on the several accomplishments of our state as well as issues we need to work on going forward.  The Governor made it clear that she wants a water quality bill on her desk as soon as possible.  This is an issue that we worked on last session and are trying to move it through the final stages of the process.

Tax reform was recognized in the speech. The Federal Tax legislation that was passed before Christmas will require us to review and make possible changes in Iowa’s Tax Code.  Rural Iowa was also a focus and the Governor announced a new initiative to expand broadband internet across rural Iowa.  This is important for farmers and small towns to continue to do business just like the rest of the country.

During the speech the Governor acknowledged that mistakes have been made in the rollout of managed care but made a commitment to make it right.  She has brought in new leadership to manage the program, with experience and expertise in managed care. Governor Reynolds discussed her plan for education funding this year.  Iowa is recognized as a leader in K-12 education funding, investing an additional $735 million since 2011.  These investments have brought total annual spending on K-12 to nearly $3.2 billion, accounting for 45% of the state’s entire budget.  Iowa is fourth in the nation in K-12 funding increases.

The “Future Ready Iowa Act” initiative was a high point in the speech.  West Delaware School District and Henderson Products in Manchester were recognized for their innovative partnership.  It centered on Henderson’s need for welders and resulted in thirty graduates of West Delaware being hired.  I was honored to have them as guests for the speech.  After the speech I was able to spend time showing them the Capitol.

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