Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on May 9 released the following statement following the close of the 2012 legislative session:
In January, the lieutenant governor and I brought forward a bold agenda focused on the dual goals of job creation and transformational education reform. I want to thank the General Assembly for considering our priorities and for adopting a significant number of them to help move our state forward. [See list below.]
Legislation passed by this General Assembly will provide our Iowa Economic Development Authority with additional tools to help meet our administration's ambitious goal to create 200,000 new jobs. We have made significant progress on that goal during this first year and a half and the High Quality Jobs Incentive Fund and Employee Stock Option Plan legislation will help accelerate those efforts.
I am also pleased that this General Assembly took a first important step toward our goal of transformational education reform. While these initial steps may be considered by some as small, our new early childhood literacy initiative, in particular, will have lasting effects on the lives of thousands of Iowa children and significantly improve their chances of future academic and career success. We also enhance teacher accountability by requiring annual reviews.
2012 session may also be remembered for what it failed to accomplish
However, the 2012 session may be remembered as much for what failed to be accomplished as for what actually was accomplished. Despite the best efforts of my office and a bipartisan majority in the Iowa House, the inability of Senate Democrats to adopt serious property tax reform has put Iowa taxpayers in jeopardy of seeing significant property tax increases in the coming year.
The Senate failed to support legislation based on the framework I believe was agreed to as a roadmap to finding a compromise between my office, the House, and the Senate. They failed to pass a meaningful step forward in our goal to make Iowa's tax system more competitive or assist with our critically needed job creation goals.
As a result, Iowa taxpayers face yet another year with property taxes that are scheduled to grow nearly $2 billion over the next eight years. This is absolutely unacceptable and Iowa voters will have an opportunity to resolve this impasse in November.
Lt. Governor Reynolds and I are proud to work with all members of the Iowa General Assembly and proud to serve our citizens each and every day. We will continue over the next seven and a half months of 2012 to travel the state, promote our ambitious agenda, and work aggressively toward the achievement of our four goals:
* 200,000 new jobs for Iowans
* 25% increase in personal incomes
* Reduce the cost of government by 15%
* Provide Iowa children with the nation's finest education
Branstad /Reynolds: 2011 & 2012 Legislative Accomplishments
Here's what the governor and lieutenant governor list for 2012 accomplishments.
* Economic Development and Jobs: Two of the governor's jobs priorities received legislative approval this year and will provide the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) with additional tools to help meet the governor's ambitious job creation goals.
* High Quality Jobs Incentive Fund: $15 million fund IEDA will use to package job growth deals that will encourage new large employers to locate or expand in Iowa.
* Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPs): This legislation requested by the governor will encourage those Iowa businesses looking for new owners with incentives to sell the business to their own employees. This will keep great jobs and careers in Iowa and give Iowa communities an additional tool to promote local economic development.
* Education Reform: This year the Legislature took a small, but important, step toward answering the call of the Branstad/Reynolds administration to provide transformational education reform. This year's effort includes enhanced annual teacher evaluations, competency tests for applicants to teacher preparation programs, and a major new early childhood literacy initiative that includes possible retention for those not reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
* Transparency: This legislation languished in the Legislature for years. This year Gov. Branstad spearheaded the passage of landmark transparency legislation to create a Public Information Board (with true enforcement powers) that will significantly improve the transparency of state and local government and ensure the enforcement of our open records/open meetings laws.
* Mental Health Redesign: No longer will the quality of Iowans access to mental health care services be dependent on where they live. This governor-led initiative will transform the delivery of mental health services across Iowa and ensure all Iowans have access to a standard and consistent core of essential services.
* Modernize Services for the Aging: The Legislature adopted the Branstad/Reynolds administration's plan for a new regional service delivery model for our Area Agencies on Aging. This new model will significantly modernize and simplify the provision of services for Iowa's aging population.
* Higher Education Funding: The governor requested, and the Legislature provided, additional funding for our Regents institutions (at a level that should alleviate the need for tuition increases beyond those already set), additional resources for our community colleges (much of which will be used to support the critical role community colleges play in developing a skilled workforce), and an additional $2 million for the state's tuition grant program (to help make private college opportunities affordable for more Iowa students).
* Budget Predictability and Stability: The general fund budget adopted by the Legislature is at the level requested by the governor in his initial budget. This adopted budget keeps ongoing spending lower than ongoing revenue and spends only 97% of available revenue--well below the 99% limit as set in state law. In addition, this budget is estimated to result in full funding of our cash reserve fund, economic emergency fund, the taxpayer trust fund, and with a healthy carryover balance to meet all of the state's cash flow needs.
What the governor and lieutenant governor list as key 2011 accomplishments
* Iowa Economic Development Authority: Totally redesigned the state economic development service delivery model with the creation of the new Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Innovation Council, and the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress. With unemployment declining in Iowa in every month since this new model was deployed, Iowans are already seeing the benefits of the Branstad/Reynolds administration's job creation efforts.
* Complete Overhaul of the State Budget: The $900 million inherited budget gap wherein one-time revenue was used to fund 89 different ongoing state programs was eliminated, a first step toward biennial budgeting was adopted and 86% of FY 13 expenses were approved a year early to provide enhanced predictability and stability for all those receiving and providing state services, the state fully funded its commitment to local school districts and eliminated a $216 million shortfall that had fallen onto the backs of property taxpayers, and the state's reserve accounts are fully funded.