Legislators react to governor’s address

Gov. Terry Branstad demonstrated a push for reform in both education and property taxes while also touting Iowa’s position economically in the country during his Condition of the State address Tuesday at the statehouse.

Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, wasn’t impressed with what the governor delivered overall. Sodders called the speech “lackluster at best” and said the education plan didn’t have details, along with a few of his other ideas.

“There just wasn’t much substance,” Sodders said.

Sodders did like the fact that the governor stressed that commercial property tax reform should have counties and cities receiving money they would lose from the decline in tax funds.

“That’s encouraging because that’s what we’ve been talking about for two years now,” Sodders said.

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, was pleased that the governor’s budget calls for spending lower than the revenues.

“We’re protecting the taxpayers and we’re protecting the state budget,” Fisher said.

Fisher said Tuesday afternoon he wanted to look closer at the education reform proposal before commenting on specific details.

Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said he didn’t have strong feelings either way on the Condition of the State speech as very few specific details were released on education reform and property taxes. He expects to learn more in the coming days as the session progresses. Smith did agree with Branstad that there should be bipartisan support for some type of education reform.

Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, also feels property tax reform is needed.

“I still think we need to come up with a bold plan instead of getting a plan just to get us re-elected,” Grassley said.

Like Fisher, Grassley said it’s too early to comment on the education reform plan. He does like the fact the plan is out the first week of the session.

“That gives us some time so we can spend a lot of time back home taking it to our constituents to find out what they like about it and what they don’t like about it,” Grassley said.