Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) Photo source: Governor Branstad's Office
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen
Photo source: Governor Branstad’s Office

Republican state legislators and party officials offered a mixed reaction to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State address yesterday.

Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann issued a statement praising Branstad’s address.

“Governor Branstad just presented a bold and innovative agenda for continuing to move Iowa forward. For four years Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds have worked with the Legislature to spur job creation, balance our budget, cut taxes, and implement transformational education reform. Washington, D.C., in particular could learn from the example of Governor Branstad and Lt. Gov Reynolds, who have consistently proposed biennial budgets that give taxpayers, schools, and businesses the stability and predictability they need to thrive. I wish the governor the best of luck as he continues working to ensure Iowa remains a great and prosperous state,” Kaufmann said.

Iowa GOP Co-Chair Cody Hoefert praised Branstad for getting Iowa’s fiscal house in order.  “Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds have made the tough choices necessary to put Iowa back on sound financial footing. With their leadership, I am confident that Iowa will continue to grow and prosper,” Hoefert said in a released statement.

State Senator Dennis Guth (R-Klemme) thought that Branstad’s address was a “yawner” and didn’t say much that was substantive.  He said that it risked nothing nor did it provide solutions on how Iowa should repair its infrastructure.  Guth was also concerned about the focus on passing a bullying bill.  “We need to change hearts and minds, not laws,” Guth told Caffeinated Thoughts.

He was supportive of Branstad’s proposal for school aid.  The Governor is being reasonable with a one-and-a-half percent increase for schools,” Guth said.

Freshman State Representative John Wills (R-Wills) told Caffeinated Thoughts that the Governor’s address was just a starting point.  “It is a starting point for the budgeting process.  The governor shares his thoughts and ideas and we can go from there.  The governor presented his budget, and we in the House have made a commitment to not spend more than we can taken in so we’ll go from here,” Wills stated.

Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) was commended Branstad for his speech.

“Senate Republicans look forward to working this Legislative session with Governor Branstad,” Senator Dix said. “The Governor shares the passion of Senate Republicans for being responsible with the hard-earned money of all Iowans, ensuring every child has access to a world class education, lifting up middle incomes and creating an environment to foster job creation and economic growth.”

“It is imperative we are aggressive in mission to grow our economy. A competitive tax structure is advantageous in expanding our skilled workforce and creating new career opportunities. However, at the end of the day we also must act responsibly when budgeting. Iowa families prioritize their spending to ensure they are not adding to their credit card debt. They expect the same from their elected officials – particularly when it comes to spending their money and passing debt onto future generations,” Dix added in a released statement.

State Representative Dean Fisher (R-Garwin) told Caffeinated Thoughts that he was encouraged by what he heard. “I was very encouraged by the governors address, the overall theme was about working together and we will continue to do that in the legislature.  Many of the initiatives outlined have been ongoing tough issues, hopefully we can resolve some of these this session.  I was particularly encouraged by the comments about protecting Iowans from domestic abuse.  I am working on several bills in that arena myself and hope to make progress this session on them,” Fisher said.

Freshman State Representative Ken Rizer (R-Marion) liked what he heard.  “I was impressed by the Governor’s address!  I like the priorities he layed out, and I think the budget he submitted is a great first start.  Now it’s time for the Legislature to dive into the details and effectively perform our role,” Rizer said in an email to Caffeinated Thoughts.

State Representative Tedd Gassman (R-Scarville) had mixed feelings about Branstad’s bullying initiative, but liked what the Governor had to say about budgeting.

“There seemed to be a considerable amount of time spent on the bullying thing again. It will be interesting to look at the actual details. I come from a district where the schools are satisfied with current law and feel that they are doing an excellent job in this area. If we can keep this on somewhat of a generic basis I may be able to vote for more rules. In my opinion this is a parental issue for the most part and should be handled by the parents, however kids should not be harassed to the point it has an effect on their school work. Every child should be able to attend school without fear of harassment. I don’t get involved with the social medium so really don’t know what kids are doing in that respect,” Gassman said.

“I like what he is saying about budgeting. I really believe in how the Republican caucus is handling that aspect of things. I know his budget is not final but I looked through the administration and regulation part of the booklet and just about every agency is getting an increase. Doubt that will happen,” Gassman added.

State Senator Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa) viewed the address favorably.  “I enjoyed the Governor’s summary of the good legislation we passed last year to enact the Home Base Iowa initiative,  and the success of bringing some significant employment to Iowa.  Looking forward, the focus on providing high speed internet access to all Iowan’s, or to every acre, is good and is necessary.  Also, I believe it was important that the Governor highlighted the need to provide more transportation and infrastructure funding, although I would like to hear more details from his office,” Rozenboom said.

“The Governor has stressed the need to reduce bullying in the schools, and of course everyone supports that in concept.  However, the legislation that was advanced last year was very disappointing to me with respect to parental  notification, and with respect to the fact that just kids with certain listed traits were protected.  If the Governor insists on cleaning up those areas I can support the effort,” Rozenboom added.

Freshman State Representative Steven Holt (R-Denison) understands Branstad’s priorities, but is concerned about the underlying details.

“I will look carefully at the proposals made by the Governor today in his Condition of the State address. I understand the desire to stop bullying and its negative consequences on children, however I am concerned by the unintended consequences and possible misuse of bullying laws. I believe that laws and authority already exist to deal decisively with bullying,” Holt told Caffeinated Thoughts.

“I agree with the Governor that our infrastructure must be improved. I favor a revenue neutral approach that will not result in increased taxes for our citizens, and smarter use of existing funds.  As the Speaker of the House recently stated, we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.  Clearly, infrastructure must have a greater priority in the allocation of existing funds,” Holt added.

State Representative Sandy Salmon (R-Denver) expressed concern about the budget and the bullying bill Branstad proposed.  “A number of his initiatives involve more spending and those will have to be considered within a very tight budget. Regarding the bullying bill, it will be interesting to see it in its final form. We must be careful not to grow state government power at the expense of the local school’s power.  In addition, conscience protections for students to express convictions arising from their faith is critically important to a bill such as this,” Salmon told Caffeinated Thoughts.

House Speaker Pro Tem Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) told Caffeinated Thoughts he hoped that the Legislature and the Governor can .  “I believe the Governor laid out some ambitious goals. Some can be more easily accomplished while others will take more careful consideration. My hope is that the Legislative and Executive branch can find ways to move forward on the priorities of Iowans in a timely fashion,” he said.

State Representative Peter Cownie (R-Des Moines) appreciated Governor Branstad’s address.  “I thought it was a good speech with realistic goals for the General Assembly. We have split government by the will of Iowans last November at the polls. I think all of the priorities that Governor Branstad put forward are feasible with the current political realities of the legislature. I look forward to working with my fellow legislators in the House and Senate as well as the Governor’s office these coming days,” Cownie told Caffeinated Thoughts.

State Senator Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton) expressed mixed feelings about what she heard.  “I have some real concern about where the state’s budget is going in the coming fiscal year and how we will fund the governor’s initiatives. I appreciated his comments about domestic violence and look forward to seeing where he plans to take that,” Sinclair stated.

Freshman State Representative Norman Mommsen (R-DeWitt) told Caffeinated Thoughts that Governor Branstad’s address did not contain any surprises for him.  Freshman State Representative John Kooiker (R-Boyden) said the address was a starting point. “He laid out his agenda very clearly and it gives all of us a good place to start our discussion of the issues he raised,” Kooiker stated.

“Governor Branstad has outlined several key priorities for the 2015 Legislative session. I look forward to learning more about his Connect Every Acre plan, a third-consecutive tuition freeze and creating an environment that is conducive to economic growth and job creation,” State Senator Jake Chapman (R-Adel) told Caffeinated Thoughts.

Chapman addressed his broadband plan. “It is vital we ensure the utilization of technological advances benefit all Iowans, including those in all our rural sectors.”

Chapman also appreciated Governor Branstad’s remarks about domestic abuse.  “I agree with the Governor mandatory minimum sentences should be expanded from one to three years.”

“As Senate Appropriations Ranking Member, I also take a vested interest in the Governor’s plan. There is a significant amount of work to do on the budget process. Today is only the second of 110 days scheduled for the Legislative session. Working through the process, I am committed to approving a responsible budget that spends less than we take in on an annual basis. Iowa families make hard decisions every day when it comes to prioritizing their expenditures and our state should be doing the exact same thing,” Chapman added.

State Representative Stan Gustafson (R-Cumming) appreciated the Branstad’s economic message. “I thought the Governor’s message was a forward looking message relative to economic growth in the State of Iowa,” he said.

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