Iowa Governor Terry Branstad began his fifth term today after being out of public service for 12 years. Branstad and his Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, took their oaths of office, in front of an audience of more than 1800 people at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, replacing outgoing Governor Chet Culver. While there were former Lieutenant Governors, representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches present there was one notable absence – Governor Culver – who decided to begin his vacation today citing not wanting to take away the spotlight from Branstad as the reason for his absence.
This being Governor Branstad’s fifth inaugural address, he said he wanted to share what he has learned in the 15 months he spent traveling the state and he framed what he learned into a statement of principles which he said is “a new covenant between a state and its people.” He explained this new covenant must have as its “polestar” that “Iowa is an exceptional place.”
The first principle he cited was that we have too much government and said that Iowa needs a smaller government, “We must be rid of the yoke of government which taxes us too much, spends too much and regulates us too much.”
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds echoed that sentiment in her earlier speech when she said, “we will redefine the role and structure of government; a limited, transparent, smaller government, which focus on essential services, infrastructure, safety, and quality education, a partner rather than an obstacle in reaching our goals.”
Governor Branstad pledged to reduce government spending and size saying, “Our auditor tells us that at least 15% must be permanently eliminated from government to make our books balance once and for all. And I aim to make sure we do it and do it now.”
His second principle was a call to service. He started with a reminder to those in public service, “And I ask each government employee, from the clerks to the supervisors, to the department heads, to never forget: it is the people who are our bosses.” He then reminded Iowans that we must serve one another, “without the compulsion of government.” He gave the example of The Boone Hope Foundation who helped to meet the needs of underprivileged youth in that community. He challenged all Iowans to “renew our commitment to get involved.” He also gave the example of Iowans who are currently deployed overseas and honored two Iowan soldiers: Medal of Honor Recipient Salvatore Giunta and Burlington native, Sgt. Anthony Sellers, who is a son of a vet and has spent two tours in Iraq.
The third principle Governor Branstad stated is “to restore integrity and transparency” to the government’s decision making process, he said:
We’ve over-promised and under-delivered, turning solutions into problems. Iowans deserve better. We will get back on track with a slimmer, better managed and sustainable government you can count on when you need it. And it will start by opening up to the people our budgets, briefings and the like. Sunshine remains the best cure for what ails our government.
His fourth principle in the new covenant is “a renewed commitment to provide the best education in the world.” He wants to start this by having a “first-rate teacher in every classroom.” He wants to accomplish this through holding a summit of education leaders to benchmark Iowa’s status and then to lay out a plan for the Legislature’s consideration. He then said that parents are the ones primary responsible to teach their children the value of education, that it isn’t just the school who should do more.
This fourth and final principle is to celebrate success citing that our current tax system “punishes those who create the jobs we need.” He pledged to lower taxes and to work to simplify the system.
Wrapping up he said:
It is time for a new covenant between Iowans and their government. It is a covenant that is founded upon principles of limited government, service above self, transparency and integrity, world class schools and celebrating the success of Iowans.
These are the principles that will guide my days as your Governor.
And we will see if he follows through.
You can watch Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds’ and Governor Terry Branstad’s addresses below:
*Photo by Rodney White/The Des Moines Register
Side note: I had my daughter, Kelvey, credentialed as photographer, but we were having technical difficulties with her camera. Hopefully with future events we’ll get to present her as our in-house (literally) photographer. She’s pretty good for a 14-year old.