The 2012 Iowa Legislative Session, Tuesday January 10, 2012, 2012 Condition of the State
Governor Terry E. Branstad delivered his 17th Condition of the State Address on Tuesday, January 10, 2012. His speech, the first of his new administration, focused on Iowa's trending economy and his goals to ensure continued success. He covered last session's challenges and how the sacrifices of last year contributed to additional revenues in this year's budget. With the fiscal picture in a better shape and the FY 2013 budget substantially completed, Governor Branstad indicated his hope to focus this session on job creation and opportunities to improving family incomes and to substantially reform education.
During his speech, Governor Branstad proposed a 4 point plan of action to create jobs and to grow careers in the state. This plan includes:
- A 40% reduction of Commercial and Industrial Property Taxes. The governor cited that Iowa has the second highest commercial property tax rate in the nation and this fact is stifling expansion and production. He indicated the political desire during the 2011 session to reform the commercial and industrial tax rates and hopes legislators will commit to permanent tax relief for small businesses this session.
- Directing a $25 million annual appropriation to the High Quality Jobs Program within the Iowa Economic Development Authority that replaced the Grow Iowa Values Fund.
- Establishing supply chain clusters in towns surrounding larger metro areas to feed large manufacturing and industrial facilities with their products. This proposal intends to break down barriers that discourage the creation of businesses closer to the manufacturing facilities.
- Encouraging the formation of employee stock option plans to facilitate the sale of local businesses to the employees who have made that company a success. This proposal will work to keep Iowa companies in the state and help sustain main street Iowa communities. This will not only benefit local communities by keeping good paying jobs in rural areas, but employee owned businesses help company profitability and the individual employee.
Several weeks ago, the Governor's Education Reform package was announced and the Governor highlighted this package as a major priority for the 2012 session. His proposal includes numerous areas of concentration. Highlighted in the address were:
- An increase in the grade point average to 3.0 for admission into a teaching program.
- Requiring prospective teachers to show their knowledge of content and ability to teach.
- Modifying the School Administration Manager program to provide more time for principals to be instructional leaders and to observe and coach teachers in their classrooms.
- Improving Iowa Core and developing additional standards for music, fine arts, character education, physical education, entrepreneurship education, applied arts, and foreign languages.
- Creating a new kindergarten assessment to measure whether children start kindergarten ready to learn and leave prepared to flourish in first grade.
- Establishing end of course tests to ensure High School Seniors are prepared to graduate.
- Ensuring all High School Juniors take a college entrance exam, with the state covering the cost.
- Developing new literacy standards to ensure children can read by the end of third grade.
- Encouraging innovative efforts in the classroom by creating an Innovation Acceleration Fund with competitive grants to fund these efforts.
- Promoting online learning that complements learning in traditional classrooms.
There was no mention of mental health redesign in the governor's address, but this will certainly be a focus of this legislature moving forward. In fact, legislators have already begun discussing the interim recommendations from the five redesign work groups.
The Governor's Condition of the State address lasted approximately 30 minutes and was focused on the Branstad Administration's goal of creating 200,000 new jobs, increasing family incomes and establishing Iowa as the national leader in education.
Threase Harms Kent Hartwig
Jenny Schulte Becky Brdicko