Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds gave her second Condition of the State address on Monday morning to a joint session of the Iowa Legislature.
She took time to honor Clinton Fire Department Lt. Eric Hosette who was killed during an explosion at the ADM grain silo in Clinton on January 5th, as well as, firefighter Adam Cain who remains hospitalized in critical condition.
She also honored Billy Fox, an Army veteran and head of security at Vermeer Manufacturing, for his actions that saved lives when a tornado struck the plant in Pella in July.
Reynolds called for bipartisan cooperation during the 2019 session saying the Condition of the State is a time to forge a common vision.
She pointed to former President George H.W. Bush, former Iowa Governor Robert Ray, former Congressman Leonard Boswell, and former U.S. Senator John Culver – two Republicans, two Democrats – who passed away this year and for their willingness to reach across the aisle.
“If we’ve learned anything from the passing of these public servants, it’s this: Working together, with deep resolve, we can achieve more than we ever dreamed possible,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds highlighted 2018 accomplishments.
“Together, we: passed the largest income tax cut ever as part of a groundbreaking tax reform package; continued making education a priority by investing a record amount in K-12 schools and our children’s future; enacted a collaborative water-quality bill, my first as governor; protected the sanctity of life; provided affordable insurance options to thousands of Iowans; and—with unanimous support—enacted comprehensive mental health reform and the Future Ready Iowa Act,” she said.
In this address she highlighted priorities that would have bipartisan appeal.
She called for the Legislature to fund the Future Ready Iowa initiative implemented last year that helps students, as well as, adults learn about new careers and provides apprenticeship opportunities.
She called for a $20 million appropriation. “This investment will take Iowa to the next level. And more important, it will give more Iowans an opportunity to find a rewarding career,” Reynolds said.
She highlighted the state’s STEM initiative and the computer science initiative that has helped bring computer science instruction into elementary schools.
She said she submitted in her budget $93 million in additional funding for pre-K to 12th-grade education that includes a per-pupil funding increase of 2.3 percent. Her total education budget amounts to $3.4 billion.
Reynolds highlighted goals to help revitalize rural Iowa which includes for broadband access.
“I am requesting $20 million, split over two years, for broadband infrastructure. This funding will accelerate expansion and leverage an additional $120 million in private investment for high-speed internet,” she said.
She also called for double the workforce housing tax credits for housing developments in rural Iowa bring the amount to $10 million.
Reynolds also announced the creation of the Center for Rural Revitalization within the Iowa Economic Development Authority to place a higher priority on Iowa’s rural communities and Main Street businesses.
She also outlined the work to expand mental health access in the state.
Reynolds announced she wants the state to commit an additional $11 million in her two-year Medicaid budget to help sustain programs created by Mental Health regions.
She said her budget also proposes to fund four additional psychiatric residencies at the University of Iowa for doctors who will practice in rural communities.
“Our efforts aren’t over yet. But by working together, we will have the best adult mental health system in the country.,” Reynolds stated.
She said the state is not as far along with services for children. She announced that she would introduce a bill that would introduce a children’s mental health system that would work in tandem with the adult mental health system.
“I’m also calling on the Legislature to appropriate additional money for home-and community-based children’s mental health services so that we can eliminate the waiting list that currently exists,” she stated.
Reynolds also announced a new program within the state’s workforce development initiative within the Department of Corrections in order to provide inmates with skills they need to find gainful employment when they complete their sentence.
The first is a new home building program at the Newton Correctional Facility in partnership with the nonprofit Homes for Iowa.
In addition to this Reynolds announced support for an amendment to the Constitution to return voting rights to felons after they have completed their sentence.
“I don’t believe that voting rights should be forever stripped, and I don’t believe restoration should be in the hands of a single person,” Reynolds said. “(Those) who have completed their sentences should have to wait for my say or any future governor’s say before they get that dignity back.”
She also announced support for a victims’ rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution.
“This year, let’s start the process of enshrining victim’s rights into the Iowa Constitution. Like 36 other states have done, let’s send victims a loud and clear message: We will protect you,” Reynolds said.
Watch her address below: