Condition of the State 2020

Condition of the State 2020

January 18, 2020 0 By Luis Garrison


♪♪ Funding for this
program was provided by Friends, the Iowa PBS
Foundation, as well as generations of families
and friends who feel passionate about the
programs they watch on Iowa PBS. As legislators gather in
Iowa’s capital city of Des Moines, Governor Kim
Reynolds lays out her vision for the 2020
legislative session, amidst another year of
full republican control at the Iowa Statehouse. It’s the Governor’s 2020
Condition of the State Address. From the House Chambers of
the Iowa State Capitol, here is David Yepsen. Yepsen: Welcome to the
Iowa Statehouse where a newly convened legislature
is gathered to hear Governor Kim Reynolds
assess the condition of our state and lay out
her legislative agenda. This is Governor Reynolds’
third Condition of the State address and it comes
in another election year here in Iowa as
republicans still retain trifecta control of the
governorship, the Iowa House and the Senate. Now here are some of
the issues confronting Reynolds and Statehouse
legislators. The state budget always
dominates part of the conversation in
this chamber. A potential restructuring
of taxes on her property, income and sales, with
new funds designated for conservation, recreation
and water quality. And further examination of
the state’s mental health system. ♪♪ Yepsen: We’re
waiting for the Governor to enter the chamber. Please escort Lieutenant
Governor Adam Gregg and his family to their seats. Yepsen: Lieutenant
Governor Gregg precedes the Governor’s entrance. (applause) Yepsen: This
speech is always a festive occasion for legislators,
the start of a new session, turning
over a new leaf. Members are here, their
families are here, it’s a nice ceremony and it is
one that is required by the state Constitution,
the Governor shall report on the Condition
of the State. (applause) The Chair
recognizes the Sergeant at Arms. Mr. President, First
Gentleman Kevin Reynolds and the family of the Governor
have arrived in the House Chamber. Please escort Governor
Reynolds’ family to their seats. Yepsen: The Governor’s
family now being escorted to their seats here
in the chamber. The chamber gets pretty
full with family members, members of their families,
justices, executive council members,
lots of spectators. (applause) The Chair
recognizes the Sergeant at Arms. The Governor is waiting. Mr. President, your
committee to notify and escort Governor
Reynolds has arrived. The committee will escort
the Honorable Kim Reynolds to the rostrum. (gavel sounds 3 times) (applause) Yepsen: The Governor getting a warm
welcome from the members. This is, like I said, the
start of a new day, the start of a new session and
people are in a good mood, at least for now. That may not last but it’s
always a fine ceremony. (applause) Yepsen: Here
is Governor Reynolds. (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Thank you. (applause) Governor
Reynolds: Thank you. Thank you. (applause) Governor
Reynolds: Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant
Governor, legislative leaders, Senators and
Representatives, Justices and Judges, elected
officials, distinguished guests, family, friends
and my fellow Iowans, please be seated. (laughs) Governor Reynolds:
Each time I enter this spectacular building I am
reminded of the generation of Iowans who have
come before us. And each time I walk into
this historic chamber I am humbled by the
responsibility of following in the footsteps
of some amazing leaders and outstanding
public servants. We lost a number of
those leaders last year. Most notable for us today
is Chief Justice Mark Cady, whose absence is
felt right there in the front row. He loved his state. And he loved the law. And to his family and the
colleagues in the Iowa Judicial Branch, our
entire state shares your loss. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: We also bid
farewell to former Lieutenant Governor Joann
Zimmerman, the first woman elected Lieutenant
Governor of this great state. She brought the heart of a
nurse and the passion of a mother to a distinguished
career in public service. And with shared sadness,
we mourn the loss of Congressman Berkley
Bedell, former Iowa Supreme Court Justices
Daryl Hecht and Bruce Snell, as well as the
longest-serving Chief Justice in state
history, Art McGivern. We honor those leaders and
so many more who committed their lives to making
tomorrow a little better than today. (applause) Governor
Reynolds: So often public service comes with
sacrifice, a sacrifice that our men and women in
uniform make every day. Our military, police and
first responders risk their lives to
protect ours. So today and every day we
should thank those who serve while honoring
those we lost. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor: Reynolds: In 2019 we
saw the resiliency of Iowans tested once again as
historic floods ravaged both sides of our state
and parts in between. Entire communities were
wiped out as the waters rose and didn’t
seem to recede. But that devastation was
met with purpose and resolve to build
and recover. To those lives who have
been impacted, your state stands with you as you
work and we work to return life to normal and get
your homes, businesses and communities back on track. To do that, the budget I’m
submitting today includes an additional $20 million
for flood relief. (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: This is the third time that I’ve
stood before you to report on the Condition
of the State. As always, it’s a time to
reflect on what we have done over the last year
and to lay out a vision for the year to come. But this year marks the
beginning of a new decade. So it seems appropriate
that we take stock in what we have accomplished the
last ten years and more importantly, to talk about
what we want for the next ten years and beyond. When this body met in
January of 2010, our unemployment
rate was 6.4%. Just months earlier our
state faced a near billion dollar deficit. School funding was
drastically cut. And Iowans were worried
about their future. A decade later the
condition of our state is truly strong. Because of the vision and
tenacity of Iowans our unemployment rate has gone
from near record high to record low. Instead of cutting school
budgets we’re cutting taxes. Our cash reserves
are full. Wages are going up. And Iowans once again
believe we’re headed in the right direction. (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Because we have such a great story
to tell, last year we launched the “This
is Iowa” campaign. And the goal was to show
the country what we have to offer, to show that
Iowa is the best place to live, work and
raise a family. As part of this new
initiative we created a candid camera style video
where an actor playing a real estate agent shows
Iowa home listings to New Yorkers so when the
couples hear how big the homes are, how short the
commute is, and what they can buy the properties
for, they are baffled. That’s not possible, is
the general reaction. When the actor tells them
that these homes are in Iowa and not New York,
they are shocked and amazed. That’s not how they
envisioned Iowa. That is not what
they have been told. We made that video to
dispel some of the misconceptions and really
to showcase what we have here. But I think that video
serves another purpose. It reminds us of what we
have because it can be easy to forget, to forget
what it means to grow up in a safe neighborhood
with a good school and a nice back yard, to spend
more time with our families than we do in
traffic, and to watch the sun set in our big skies
and the stars shine over our beautiful fields. That is what Iowa has to
offer and so much more. Those New Yorkers saw what
I see, that opportunity lives here. But we can’t take
it for granted. If we do, if we become
complacent, then the condition of the state
will not be strong when this body gathers
ten years from now. That’s why this year,
2020, we need to plan for 2030 and 2040. We need to seize the
opportunities that exist so that years from now the
next generation of Iowans will inherit an Iowa whose
greatness comes as no surprise to anyone,
including New Yorkers. That kind of
planning takes work. It doesn’t happen all at
once and no single policy will do. That kind of planning, it
also takes a bold vision, a vision that preserves
our heritage while seizing opportunities. Governor Reynolds: My
request to this General Assembly is that you join
me in taking the first bold step, right
now, this session. In the coming weeks I’ll
be introducing the Invest in Iowa Act, a bill that
will significantly cut income taxes, create a
sustainable funding source for our mental health
system, reduce the burden of property tax payers and
fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor
Recreation Trust. (applause) (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: These
changes will make our vision a reality. It is an investment in
our future and it is an investment in those
who are our future. Ten years ago, Iowans
voted to establish the Natural Resources and
Outdoor Recreation Trust. Funding the trust is no
small investment but I believe that it is one
that we need to make. We were given this
beautiful land to work, but also to keep. And preserving what we
have been given must be a responsibility
of all Iowans. In 2010, the legislature
established a formula for distributing
the trust fund. I voted for that fund
formula as did every one of my colleagues. But the challenges we face
today and tomorrow are different than what we
understood them to be ten years ago. So it’s time to amend the
formula, specifically we need to increase the
amount of money that will be allocated for water
quality and conservation. Under my bill, almost 58%
of the trust fund, an estimated $100 million,
will go towards water quality efforts every
year, representing an almost 31% increase
in current funding. We also commit $52 million
for other conservation and outdoor recreation
efforts, representing an increase of 14.6%
of current funding. These investments will
not only aid in our conservation efforts, they
will improve our quality of life and it will help
us retain and recruit a new generation of Iowans. (applause) (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: I have
no interest in raising taxes. So any increase in revenue
from a sales tax must be more than offset by
additional tax cuts and that starts — (applause) Governor Reynolds: So that starts with continuing to
reduce our uncompetitive income tax rates. Two years ago, thanks to
so many of you in this room, we passed the
largest income tax in Iowa history. And I said then, and I’ve
said ever since, that wasn’t a one and done. I intend to make good on
that promise, which is why I’m proposing to cut
income tax by an additional 10% for almost
every Iowan, with lower income Iowans receiving
as much as a 25% cut. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: So let me put
that into perspective. Just one year ago our top
tax bracket was almost at 9%, one of the worst
in the country. Now, with this new round
of tax cuts, our top rate will be down to
5.5% by 2023. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Significant
progress making Iowa competitive
with our peers. Mental health is becoming
one of the biggest challenges of our time. Two years ago we reformed
our adult mental health system and last year we
created Iowa’s first children’s mental
health system. These were important steps
to putting Iowans on a path to wellness. Now, we must provide
predictable funding. To date, property tax
payers have supplied most of that support through
their county to the local mental health regions. I’m proposing, through the
Invest in Iowa Act, that we reduce property tax
levees and provide the needed funding through
the state general fund. No parent, family member
or friend should be told that treatment isn’t
available for their loved one. And by establishing a
dedicated and stable fund for mental health, we’ll
give hope to so many who are suffering in silence. It’s a promise we made and
it is a promise I intend to keep. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: The Invest
in Iowa Act will bring meaningful change to
Iowans in the very first year. But most importantly, it
looks to the future, a future that will benefit
our children and theirs. If we take this bold step
right now, then whoever is standing at this podium
10, 20, 30 years, republican or democrat,
can proudly say what I can say today, and that is the
condition of our state is strong. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: When I look
to the next decade, I am reminded that Will Rogers
once said, that farmer has to be an optimist or
he wouldn’t still be a farmer. From weather at home
to markets overseas to bureaucratic decisions
made in Washington, D.C., so much of our farmers’
success hinges on factors seemingly out of
their control. But that doesn’t mean that
we simply sit back and hope someone else fights
for our interest. It is up to us to shape
the challenges of uncertainty into
opportunities for growth. I will always be a
relentless advocate for our farmers and our
producers and our very way of life, which is why
today I’m calling for an additional $2 million
for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program as
well as modernizing and expanding the E15
Promotion Tax Credit. This will support the sale
of E15 year round and drive domestic demand for
our home grown renewable fuels. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: As we move
into 2020 I am focused on the overall wellness of all
Iowans in every part of this state in all
stages of life. And when I say all stages
of life I mean to include the unborn. We must protect life by
making it clear through an amendment that our
Constitution does not grant a right to abortion. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: We must also
do more to promote and support maternal health. Fewer doctors in fewer
hospitals are delivering babies and providing care
for mothers, especially outside the urban areas. That’s why I’m taking
steps to increase the number of doctors who
are willing and able to provide OB services in all
four corners of our state. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: So first, I
am proposing a fellowship for new family practice
physicians who want to train and specialize
in OB care. Each year, four new
residents will complete the fellowship program and
head back to their local communities, taking with
them connections to OB specialists and an
expertise to better treat mothers and their babies. Second, we’re launching a
telementoring system where OB’s at our best
institutions can consult with physicians
across the state. With this program, a
doctor in Corydon can talk with specialists in say,
Iowa City, about the treatment for a mother
with a high risk pregnancy. Using technology to bring
cutting edge health care into every community
is no longer a dream. Telehealth is
reality today. But we have only just
begun to scratch the surface. This year my budget
includes additional funding to expand the
use of these services to underserved Iowans. I have also directed
the Department of Human Services to remove
barriers that are restricting schools from
partnering with telehealth providers, especially
for behavioral health. What used to be a 70 mile
drive in the middle of the school day can now be
a walk down the hall. That means children
receiving the care that they need with less
disruption to their education. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: These
advances would not be possible without high
speed broadband. And after unanimous
support from this legislature last year for
the Empower Rural Iowa Act, we provided $5
million to do that. That funding is now
helping 17 broadband projects become
reality in rural Iowa. Broadband is not a
luxury, it is critical infrastructure. From the farmer checking
crop conditions, to the Main Street business
participating in the 24/7 marketplace, connectivity
should be the expectation no matter where you live. So let’s make that
expectation a reality. Today I’m requesting
that we appropriate an additional $15 million and
adjust our state match and that will allow us to
continue to leverage private and federal
funding to build out broadband to every part of
Iowa making us the most connected state
in the nation. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Broadband
also supports a world class education system. And if there is something
that Iowans have always understood it is that
there is no greater path to opportunity than
a quality education. We have strong local
control rooted in communities and parents
who care deeply about educating their children. We have the highest
graduation rate in the country with more of our
high schoolers taking college courses than
any other state. We have made remarkable
progress in recent years putting a new focus on
STEM, science, technology, engineering and math
and opening doors in elementary, middle and
high schools for students who want to explore fields
that will best equip them to be the innovators who
build tomorrow’s economy. Computer science has
quickly moved from a narrow elective to a basic
skill that every student needs, something the
people at Osage Community School district understand
and have embraced with a passion. In addition to requiring
computer science for students to graduate,
they have dramatically increased learning
opportunities for K-12 students to explore
coding, design apps or to find their passion in
the world of technology. And through an innovative
partnership with NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids, Osage
is training teachers to better integrate computer
science in subjects like math, English and art. I want to recognize Osage
and NewBoCo for their vision and congratulate
the students for their success. You are absolutely a model
for our state and for our nation. Please stand. (applause) (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: What
Osage is doing is amazing and we need more of it. Currently almost
two-thirds of schools teach computer science in
middle and high school and about half teach it in
elementary and we need that to be 100%, which is
why I’m calling on the legislature to take
computer science statewide and ensure every student
at every level has access to this new basic skill. (applause) Governor
Reynolds: One of the best ways for students to
learn is through hands on experience, which is why
we’re making Iowa a leader in work-based learning. In the last year alone we
have expanded high school registered apprenticeships
and launched the work-based learning
clearinghouse. And this year we’ll be
adding a million dollars for work-based learning
coordinators to be covered by operational
sharing agreements. Momentum in work-based
learning is building across the state and
Council Bluffs is a great example. The school district, Iowa
Western Community College, and several local
businesses have partnered to create TradeWorks
Academy where high school students work with
professionals to experience what it’s like
to have a career as a plumber, electrician
or a mechanic. It’s a win-win for the
students in the community. The students learn skills
that lead to lifelong careers and local
businesses get the workforce that they so
desperately needed. Emma Myers, a junior, is
using TradeWorks to learn about welding, something
her dad has been doing for 40 years and she would
like to follow in his footsteps. By the time she graduates
high school she’ll have a welding certificate that
can immediately lead to a job right there
in Council Bluffs. I want to recognize Emma
and a number of the folks here today from
TradeWorks Academy. (applause) (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: In
2019, we made historic investments in K-12
education with over $90 million in new money,
including an increase in per pupil funding and
transportation equity. The budget I’m presenting
today makes another historic investment with
over $103 million in new funding so that Iowa
schools can maintain the best teachers and
classrooms in the world. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: When it comes
to workforce opportunities Iowa is in a
strong position. We have thousands of open
jobs in rewarding careers and that is why we
launched Future Ready Iowa. Three years after starting
the initiative and just one year after this body
overwhelmingly voted to approve funding, Iowans
who are looking for a way up are finding
that opportunity. Over 6,000 Iowans are
already receiving the Last Dollar Scholarship, almost
80% of which are adult learners. That is 6,000 Iowans who
are on their way to a rewarding career. Take Sarah Keehn, a 35
year old mother of six from Hampton, who was laid
off when her employer closed its doors. Because of the Last Dollar
Scholarship she is now at NIACC pursuing a medical
assistant’s degree and soon she will help fill
the shortage of workers in our health care industry. Zach Behrensmeyer from New
Liberty is another great example. So Zach assumed college
was something that he couldn’t afford. But the Last Dollar
Scholarship has enabled and encouraged him to
pursue a degree in computer software
development at Kirkwood. When Zach graduates this
spring he’ll have a highly marketable degree in a
field where the average starting salary
is $55,000 a year. Sarah and Zach, please
stand to be recognized. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Through the
Employer Innovation Fund, Future Ready Iowa is also
working to spur innovation among employers and
communities in addressing their workforce needs. In Muscatine, the local
community foundation has partnered with Muscatine
Community College and Eastern Iowa Community
College to create an extensive six-week program
for low income parents who have children in school. They are working to become
welders or certified nursing assistants, and if
they stay on track in this program, a job will be
waiting for them at the end. On the other side of the
state Peterbilt of Sioux City and Midwest Diesel
Tech Academy developed a training program to meet
the increasing demand for diesel mechanics
in the area. In Oskaloosa, the school
district recognized transportation as a major
barrier for students to attend career academies
at Indian Hills Community College so they developed
a transportation program to make it happen. With all three of these
and so many more, the state of Iowa, through the
Employer Innovation Fund, was a partner. In less than a year, we
have helped thousands of Iowans upscale for
the new economy. Future Ready Iowa is
working, which is why I’m proposing that we
expand the Last Dollar Scholarships and the
Employer Innovation Fund by $2 million each,
bringing the total investment to
over $20 million. (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Child care is the next workforce
issue we need to tackle. It is another barrier for
families looking for a way up. For some, it is
about affordability. For others, access
is the issue. And for thousands of
Iowans it is both. This year we need to act. First, let’s make child
care more affordable by expanding the Early
Childhood tax credits. Currently, they are
available to families making $45,000 or less and
I am recommending that be doubled to $90,000. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Second, we
must begin to address the child care cliff so that we
are, hang on there, okay. I agree. So we’re not punishing
parents as they continue on a path to
self-sufficiency. To do this, we should
implement a tiered copay system that doesn’t punish
those who work hard enough to earn a raise. (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Finally, we need to enlist
Iowans to find common sense solutions that
increase access to child care. If you consider Lee
Container, it is a manufacturing facility in
Centerville that employs 200 people. Since opening its doors in
2008 they have expanded but have struggled
to find workers. Lack of child care was
part of that problem. So Lee Container partnered
with a local provider to turn a vacant elementary
school into a daycare center and that is exactly
the kind of innovation that we need, which is why
I’m opening the Employer Innovation Fund to
employers and community organizations who have
ideas to expand and create child care options in
their communities. I want to recognize
Robert, the CEO of Lee Container, and Michelle
from Curious Kids, who are with us today. Thank you for your
inspiring idea. There they are, they’re
clear up there in the corner. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: I have made
it a priority of this administration to focus
on prisoner re-entry and rehabilitation because our
prisons shouldn’t be one stop in a circle that
leads back to prison. Those in our correctional
facilities are serving time for a reason. But when they leave we
want them to succeed because here’s the thing,
if they re-offend they land back in prison at
a cost to taxpayers of $32,000 per year. But it’s more than that. When someone has lost
their way we are called to seek them out, to leave
the 99 to find the 1. I believe in that calling,
which is why I formed the Governor’s Focus Committee
on Criminal Justice Reform. This committee, which is
chaired by the Lieutenant Governor, includes law
enforcement, correction officials, the NAACP
and a wide range of stakeholders. Last month they provided
several recommendations and we’re already in the
process of implementing many of them. And last year, I signed
legislation that protects employers that are willing
to give returning citizens a second chance. To build on that we hosted
roundtables are our correctional facilities in
Mitchellville and Rockwell City where more than 80
employers stepped inside our prison walls and maybe
a little outside their comfort zone. They did that to learn
more about how they can meet their workforce needs
and give an Iowan a second chance at a productive
and rewarding life. Finally, I am renewing
my support to amend our Constitution so that it no
longer bars felons from voting after they have
served their sentence. To see why it matters,
talk to William Burt from Waterloo. He spent much of his life
in and out of prison, but now a business owner
working to change Iowa law to allow mobile barber
shops, which I think is a good idea. I recently called William
to tell him that I was restoring his voting
rights and hearing those words brought
tears to his eyes. You cannot imagine the
gratitude and dignity that Iowans like William feel
when they are told that they can once again
exercise what Ronald Reagan called the crown
jewel of American liberties. William, please stand so
that we can recognize your efforts to become an
active and productive citizen of this
great state. (applause) (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: I am
grateful to the House for starting this process last
year by approving the Constitutional amendment
with a strong bipartisan vote of 95 to 2. I also appreciate the
productive conversations we’re having with Senators
and I look forward to continuing to work with
you to pass the amendment and craft an implementing
statute that lets us avoid the confusion and lawsuits
that have plagued other states’ restoration
efforts. (applause) Governor
Reynolds: Together we can help put returning
citizens on a path to redemption. We can help them become
productive members of society, reduce recidivism
and make our communities a safer place. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: Opportunity
lives here because of the ingenuity of our people. If Iowa is going to thrive
in the next decade we must make sure that government
isn’t stifling that ingenuity. I’m concerned we are. One quarter of Iowa’s
workforce requires some kind of professional
license. If that sounds like a lot,
that is because it is. It is the second highest
in the nation, which puts our state and its
people at a competitive disadvantage. A recent study shows that
our licensing system cost Iowa 48,000 jobs
and $290 million. Our licensing requirements
are also the worst for low income people, meaning
that those who need opportunity the most have
the hardest time getting a license. We should never ever
dismiss the importance of protecting the health and
safety of the people. But is has been far
too long since we have modernized our
licensing structure. And that is what I’m
asking you to do today. First, we need to adopt
universal licensing recognition. Those who go through a
rigorous application process in another
state and meet certain conditions in our state
should be able to have that license
recognized here. Let’s encourage these
skilled workers to move to Iowa. Second, we should waive
license fees for low income individuals. Now, that doesn’t mean we
lower any standards, it just ensures we don’t deny
someone a professional license simply because of
their inability to pay. Third, we currently have
no uniform standard for considering criminal
convictions in licensure. As a result, qualified and
skilled Iowans are being denied the chance to
obtain a license because of mistakes unrelated to
the profession they now want to enter. And this is another
barrier to ex-offenders re-entering the workforce
and we need to change it. Lastly, we need better
oversight of the entire professional
licensing process. I’m calling for the
creation of a commission that will review every
professional license requirement and the boards
that oversee them every four years. Licensing reform is a
topic that has bipartisan support, but that doesn’t
mean it will be easy. There will always be
entrenched interests who benefit from overly
burdensome regulations. But we can’t let those
interests stand in the way of opportunity. These reforms are long
overdue and this is the year we begin to
fix a broken system. (applause) (applause) (applause) Governor Reynolds: As we head
into this legislative session, let’s not focus solely
on the next 12 months. This is a time to chart
the path for the next 10 years, to stand together
to enact a comprehensive agenda that invests in
Iowa, returns money to taxpayers, preserves
our land and water, strengthens our schools,
looks after the health and wellbeing of all Iowans
and gives every Iowan the opportunity to succeed. So as we move into the
next decade, let’s put Iowans first. Let’s be bold
and visionary. Let’s seize this
opportunity and make the next decade Iowa’s best. It’s time we show the
world that opportunity lives here. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the
great state of Iowa. Thank you. (applause) (applause) Yepsen: That was Governor Kim Reynolds wrapping up
her speech, standing there enjoying some applause
from the members of the General Assembly. We’re joined now by
House Minority Leader Representative Todd
Prichard of Charles City. Representative, thank you
very much for being with us today. Prichard: Thanks for
having me again this year, David. Yepsen: I want to ask you
what is your reaction to what you heard
in this speech? Prichard: Well, there’s
quite a bit in the Governor’s speech
for us to work with. I think there’s some
initiatives and some starting positions, some
starting proposals with IWILL, that is obviously a
big topic for us that we’d like to work with her on. There’s a lot to —
Yepsen: IWILL is the water quality initiative. Prichard: Right, the trust
fund for water quality initiatives. Yepsen: What else do you
view as points where you could work with
the Governor? Prichard: Obviously
anything where we’re going to do something that
betters the lives of working Iowans. I like to hear the talk
and the proposals about child care. That is something that has
been a barrier for a lot of working Iowans as far
as finding child care and things like that. So that is something, a
specific proposal we would like to work with
the Governor on. The mental health issue,
last year we passed a mental health package that
created a program but really didn’t do a funding
piece to that legislation. So finding a way through
her proposal with the sales tax increase is
something that we’ll work with her on. We’d like to find a
permanent solution for funding mental health
across the state. Yepsen: One of the things
that she’s trying to do with this money is to
lower local property taxes. Is there some way you can
assure that gets through to the local
property taxpayer? Often times local
governments are accused of taking state money and
just continuing to spend that money. Prichard: Property tax and
increases has been a big issue, particularly in my
district in rural north Iowa. And what we’ve seen, what
I’ve seen over the last few years is really a
property tax burden shift. We can claim victories
that we have shifted and lowered income tax rates,
but really that has resulted in a burden shift
to property tax owners, and that is particularly
tough for rural Iowans. So that is something we’d
like to see what her specific proposal is and
what she has in mind. But it’s something that
we have to stop shifting burden just because we
want to lower income tax to property tax owners
and the sales tax. Yepsen: Are there places
where you see any flash points with the
Governor and democratic legislators? Prichard: I think
health care. I didn’t, I’ve always
listened closely to see what the Governor is
proposing to do with dealing with health
care in Iowa. We have had a lot
of issues with the privatization and it has
had a traumatic effect on small rural hospitals and
health care providers across the state. And I didn’t really hear
much in terms of what she is doing to address health
care and that is something that I think needs to be
addressed and is probably lacking in the speech. Yepsen: Also joining us
is Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen
of Des Moines. Senator, what is your
reaction to Governor Reynolds’ speech? Petersen: I thought the
Governor raised a lot of good points about keeping
young people in our state. I was surprised, as
Representative Prichard, about her health care
message, nothing to fix the Medicaid mess that
we’re still facing as a state. Maternal health care is
in a crisis situation. She touched on that
just a little bit. But that won’t stop the
millions of dollars that are leaving our rural
hospitals to go to these out-of-state corporations
that aren’t covering the cost of delivering babies. Yepsen: What do you see,
Senator Petersen, what do you see as the major
flashpoints, what could be major points of
disagreement with the Governor’s program
in the Senate? You mentioned a couple. But are there any specific
ones that you can see will be problematic? Petersen: Well, I think
she talked about a huge tax package and we’ll want
to look at the details on that to make sure that low
income Iowans and Iowans who are retired and on
fixed income don’t take the biggest hit with that. Yepsen: And how do you,
let me ask you this sort of a brief question. The Constitution requires
that the Governor report on the condition
of the state. We don’t make that
requirement out of the legislature. But I’m going to ask
you the question. Senator Petersen, what do
you think the condition of our state is? Petersen: That’s
a good question. I think that we’re facing
some pretty significant issues. The Governor said the
condition of the state is strong. But if you look at the
amount of money that they have invested in our
classroom budgets we’re seeing schools shutting
down across our state, we’re seeing rural
hospitals struggling. So I tend to disagree with
her on saying that the condition of the
state is strong. When our smaller
communities are doing better financially then I
could maybe agree with her but we’re not
there right now. Yepsen: And,
Representative Prichard, the same question to you. What is the condition
of our state? Prichard: I really think
it depends on who you ask and where they are. Right now the farm economy
is in some struggles with trade and with ethanol. As the Governor mentioned
she is going to propose $2 million for renewables so
they can do research and development I believe. That type of
investment is great. But there’s a bigger
problem with small ethanol plant waivers, with the
trade issues that farmers are facing right now. You look at in rural
communities there’s a lot of struggles. There’s struggles to find
workers, to find people to fill jobs in critical jobs
in all parts of the state. I think you look at wages,
wage growth in Iowa has not been what
it should be. Our median wage, we need
to be focused on raising the median wage in Iowa
that if you’re going to come to Iowa you’re going
to find a job that that job can support a family. And that’s, we’ve got too
many people caught in a situation where they’re
having to work two jobs and they’re not
making ends meet. So I think it really
matters on who you ask as what the state of
the state is in. Yepsen: What will
democrats be doing about housing? Petersen: I think one of
the biggest issues you’re going to see this year,
which has bipartisan support, is to help Iowans
who are living in mobile home parks. We’ve seen out-of-state
predatory investors come and buy those properties
up and then charge outrageous increases to
them that they can’t afford and so I’m hoping
that democrats and republicans will work
together to give them some more rights as homeowners. Yepsen: And
Representative, quickly, housing is an issue in
small towns and in urban areas. Prichard: It’s
a big issue. We’re looking at proposing
legislation to expand the workforce housing credit,
hopefully make — a lot of times dollars just don’t
make, the amount that you have to spend in rural
Iowa to get something fixed isn’t the
same as urban Iowa. Yepsen: I’m sorry
to you both. Thank you for
being with us. We’re out of time today. I look forward to seeing
you on the Iowa Press show and we can talk more about
these things in greater detail. Petersen: Thanks
for having us. Prichard: Always
a pleasure. Yepsen: Thanks to House
Minority Leader Prichard and Senate Minority Leader
Petersen for joining us. That wraps up our coverage
of the 2020 Condition of the State Address. For our entire hardworking
Iowa PBS crew here at the State Capitol in Des
Moines, I’m David Yepsen. Thanks for
joining us today. ♪♪ Funding for this
program was provided by Friends, the Iowa PBS
Foundation, as well as generations of families
and friends who feel passionate about the
programs they watch on Iowa PBS.