The governor’s annual Condition of the State address is scheduled each year on the second day of session. Governor Kim Reynolds delivered her vision for Iowa Tuesday night. It was the best speech I’ve heard while in office, and bodes well for how effective our session will be.
One of the great highlights was the annual tradition of highlighting success stories from the previous year. We stand and recognize the people who are doing great work. This year the governor highlighted successes that were all located right here in western Iowa. The Muller family’s Grace on Main in Elk Horn was recognized for moving here and taking a chance on Iowa as they opened a restaurant days before the Covid response shut them down. Local residents rallied to support them by buying pizzas through the window, keeping their new business open.
Woodbine’s new CREW center was highlighted in the speech, as this incredible blend of education, fitness center, and social center has proven rural Iowa can develop their own innovative projects that meet and exceed the needs of local students and citizens. I had the pleasure of visiting with Woodbine Superintendent Justin Wagner and several of the students whose lives have been changed for the better by the new style of hands-on learning the non-traditional instructors provide. Three of those instructors attended as well.
And the third introduction from the podium was for Jacky Ochoa, a mother of four daughters who attend St. Rose of Lima Catholic school in Denison. She had written a letter to the editor to an Iowa newspaper. She caught the governor’s attention for her eloquent defense of school choice, and the programs that help low- and middle-income parents access the right education for their children. Representatives Windschitl, Holt, and I couldn’t have been more proud to be in the chamber to hear this well-deserved recognition.
Governor Reynolds then outlined a very aggressive tax reduction plan. She outlined the increasing revenues in Iowa as so many states struggle. She outlined a multi-year plan to move to a low flat-tax, and elimination of taxes on retirement income. Wednesday we received her budget proposal and are learning more details. Over the next couple months we will be working to align our numbers with hers. The Senate will start this process with a budget that controls spending and cuts more taxes. It is a pleasure to work in a Capitol where the discussion centers around the question, “Which taxes do we cut, and how much?” Iowa couldn’t be in a better place or headed in a better direction.
Getting people back to work is a second issue of focus for the governor (and legislators). Reforming the unemployment system to make it more of a RE-employment system was the second major policy portion of the speech. Governor Reynolds outlined a bold and correct vision that encourages people to waste no time to re-enter the workforce and better their lives. I led the applause as she delivered the best line of the night, “There is dignity in work; it gives us meaning and purpose. So when it’s degraded, when idleness is rewarded with enhanced unemployment and stimulus checks, when work begins to seem optional rather than fundamental, then society begins to decay.”
Way to go, governor. As I walked out of the House chamber back to the Senate, I considered how grateful I am that you have given me the opportunity to be here to represent you and work with this team.