Below are is the transcript of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s inaugural address on 1/16/15.
U.S. Charles Grassley, our new U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Governor Chris Christie, Lt. Governor Reynolds, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader, Mr. Chief Justice, justices and judges, legislators, other elected officials, distinguished guests, family and friends: I am honored to be here, with all of you, today.
Madam President Jochum, thank you for that very nice introduction.
Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, it has been a great pleasure to serve side-by-side with you these past four years and I am thrilled our partnership will continue these next four years.
Thank you for your vision on building a more prosperous Iowa future, for your leadership on STEM education and economic development and for your remarks today.
This is my sixth inauguration as your governor. It would not have been possible without the love and support of my family.
It also would not have been possible without the support of the Iowa voters.
I still marvel at a system and a state where a poor North Iowa farm boy can be elected governor. It remains a great honor and privilege to have been chosen by the people of Iowa again and again to serve as your chief executive.
Inaugurations are celebrations. Not the celebration of any one election, but the celebrations of our heritage, our history, our democracy; and of everything that is good and right and cherished about Iowa. Our Iowa way of life is prospering.
At the inaugural celebration four years ago, however, we were a state with an unsure footing, facing budget woes and economic hard times.
We knew that coming together as Iowans to work together for Iowans was critical to our success.
I joked then, as my father used to say, our eyes were bigger than our wallets. While uncertainty may have started with the state budget, it was felt by our school districts, our businesses, and Iowa families.
Instead of shrinking from the challenges our state faced, after a long first session back, we came together.
We balanced our budget and we got our fiscal house in order. Today, our rainy day funds are again full and we operate on a two-year budget with five-year projections ensuring stability and predictability for Iowa taxpayers.
With a common cause of improving opportunity for Iowa families by making it easier for Main Street businesses to create Iowa jobs, and old-fashioned persistence, we enacted the largest property tax cut in Iowa history.
We know a globally competitive education that opens doors to better skills and better training creates a world-class work force. Getting better results for Iowa students and rewarding outstanding teachers won the day and we passed a transformational education reform.
Even on the most divisive issue of the day, health care, we did what our leaders in D.C. rarely do: we found middle ground.
These compromises were not easily reached. There was hand-wringing and politics aplenty. But I know we all fiercely believed that by working together and meeting these challenges we could find greater success, greater opportunity, and greater prosperity for our people.
We were right, results speak louder than rhetoric. Incomes are rising, government is shrinking, and we have more people employed than at any time in our state’s history.
Today, we gather with Iowa facing a much different set of challenges than those of four years ago. We live in a global economy with competition coming from every hemisphere.
Although we are growing as a state, we aren’t growing fast enough. Iowa remains the one state in the nation that has not grown by even 50 percent since the 1900 census.
The growth of our state, in terms of population, jobs, incomes, and opportunities – these are the challenges we now face.
My message today is this: we are the architects of our future.
This state we all call home, this The Heart of The Heartland, has an opportunity to grow.
The generational challenges our state faces, the opportunities we must embrace, call for a tried and true way of doing business in Iowa: working hard, setting long term goals, and making sacrifices to build Iowa’s future.
Are we willing to make these commitments for Iowa?
Simply put, our future is what we want it to be; it is what we make it.
We can either design a blueprint for growth and build Iowa for a brighter future, a more bountiful future, cementing opportunity and prosperity, or, we can squander our hard work and the foundation we have built, fall into the partisan traps and go down a path neglecting to improve our state’s standing in the world and the opportunities for prosperity for Iowans.
To meet our challenge of growth as a state, we must address very familiar areas: our business climate, our skilled workforce, revitalizing our infrastructure, and spurring greater innovation and entrepreneurship within our state.
However, we must approach these areas with a perspective grounded in the 21st century, based on the strong foundation we’ve built together, but also acknowledging the challenges we must face together.
I have traveled to all of Iowa’s 99 counties every year as Governor. While the majesty of our landscape and the spirit of our people have not changed much, Iowa truly has.
We farm differently. Our crops are going to more places around the world than ever before and being planted and harvested by equipment laden with computers and connected to the internet.
We communicate differently. Information travels faster than ever before. When I was governor before, a cell phone was the size of a briefcase. Today, we carry phones in our pockets with more computing power than we ever dreamed possible.
We work differently. Advanced manufacturing is now the leading industry in our state and Iowa is at the forefront when it comes to turning corn and soy beans into sources of renewable energy, building products and even pharmaceuticals.
Indeed, Iowa truly has changed. And we must embrace these changes and adapt to them. This is the juncture we now face as a state, and as elected officials, as we prepare to build Iowa’s future.
It’s true, Iowa has seen economic and income growth. We have been beneficiaries of a strong agricultural economy.
However, laying the groundwork for future economic growth in Iowa requires building on our success, harnessing new technologies that will quickly expand and flourish. Our economic development strategy must build on our agricultural success as well as position Iowa for the global, modern marketplace.
One area that the Iowa Economic Development Authority believes is poised for tremendous growth worldwide is renewable, bio-chemical production from biomass feed stocks.
Already there are more than 3,500 US jobs working in the renewable chemicals sector but that is expected to increase fivefold.
Today, Iowa is a leader in the available supply of biomass. Let’s build on our advantage and position our state for growth in this burgeoning industry with a new incentive for the production of renewable chemicals from biomass feed stocks.
Let’s also encourage innovation with a more effective angel investor tax credit fostering the growth of start-up companies across our state.
Building on Iowa’s agricultural success with modern bio-renewable products and improving our business climate will result in growing incomes for Iowa families.
As we position Iowa for economic growth and development in the 21st century, we must also equip Iowa workers with the training and skills to fill the jobs of the future for a career in the renewable chemical sector, in advanced manufacturing, or with a start-up company.
Building the skills of our workforce so they can build the products and ideas of the 21st century does not begin after high school. It does not begin during high school. It must begin the very day our Iowa children step foot in a school for the first time.
We have already made positive steps in this direction. With Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds’ and Mary Andringa’s leadership on the STEM initiative, more Iowans are getting access to critical science, technology, engineering and math education.
As Lt. Governor Reynolds said, STEM is only the first step. We must continue working to position Iowa schools to generate a skilled workforce ready for global competition.
By working from day one to equip students with the skills needed in a knowledge-based economy, we will position Iowa’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
I have proposed the greatest investment in our schools in state history. We have worked together to freeze tuition for Iowa students at our Regents institutions for the past two years, and we ought to make it three. For growth, we need a more skilled workforce and we also need more innovation and entrepreneurship in our state.
Where Iowa is lagging is creating new jobs from new companies starting here in Iowa.
Universities across this nation are full of people working on the most challenging problems and solving them with groundbreaking ideas.
Our colleges and universities are no different. Faculty and students at our colleges and universities are working on cutting edge biotechnology and medical research and coming up with new ideas for internet based businesses.
What we need to improve, is our ability to turn those extraordinary ideas into Iowa companies and Iowa jobs. Our universities can play a key role in economic growth by converting university research into industry start-ups.
Allowing these ideas to develop, grow and flourish in our state will foster growth in unforeseen areas and will build the innovative Iowa future we truly need.
Iowans know: our people and our land have always been connected. The success and bounty of one is linked to the other.
This same shared fate is true in the 21st century and it extends to economic opportunity and internet connectivity. Addressing infrastructure today means addressing broadband in addition to our roads and bridges.
I’d like to share a story with you about Michael Koenig, Stuart McCulloh and Holden Nyhus. These young men grew up on farms near Pleasantville, DeWitt and Forest City. They all walked fields as a crop scouts, marking down the location and type of weeds in a field. Sometimes they knew the type of weed and sometimes they didn’t. But Michael, Stuart and Holden thought to themselves, “There has to be a better way to do this.”
In May 2011, as Iowa State University students these three founded Scout Pro: A company that pairs mobile devices, a web-based application and the internet with good, old fashioned crop walking.
Their web-based application allows farmers in the field to better identify the type of weed they see and pinpoint its exact location, allowing for more efficient crop maintenance and better yields.
Our farmers, and the growth of companies like Scout Pro, rely on infrastructure for success – both roads and broadband. Addressing the infrastructure that makes both the delivery of internet faster and the roads better must be a priority as we build Iowa’s future.
Looking around the room today, I know we can meet the challenges our state faces. It’s what we have always done. Embracing challenges and exceeding expectations is what makes our state so great.
We have met our past challenges with perseverance and that perseverance has built character. It is that character, I believe, which gives us greater hope for our future prosperity.
As you look at the back of a one-dollar bill, you will see The Great Seal of the United States. The Seal includes an unfinished pyramid. The unfinished pyramid is just that: unfinished. Our country and our state are never finished being built, never finished improving and we are always adapting to what comes our way.
That’s the funny thing about challenges and Iowans. Challenges make us work harder, dream bigger and go farther than ever before and they become opportunities for advancement.
My solemn promise to you today, is to always meet our challenges head on, earnestly and with building a more successful Iowa future as my guide.
I am ready to once again work with you to build Iowa’s future. So let’s build it well and let’s build it together.
Thank you. God bless you and God bless the great State of Iowa.