Branstad, Reynolds lay out state improvement plan

GRUNDY CENTER – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds brought their “Our Opportunity, Our Iowa” statewide tour through the area stopping at Grundy Center and Eldora Monday afternoon.

At the Grundy Center Community Building, Branstad stressed three main points to improve Iowa: provide property tax relief to create jobs, make the schools the best in the nation and make Iowa the healthiest state in the country.

Branstad kicked off his tour by presenting to a group of 30 in Grundy Center touting Iowa’s current financial footing.

“Iowa currently is in the best financial position in our state’s long and proud history,” Branstad said.

He said the state could be even better off if it provides nearly $400 million in property tax relief to spur job growth.

On the subject of education, one of the key parts of the governor’s reform plan is to increase the minimum teacher salary from $28,000 to $35,000.

“We want to do everything we can to attract the best students in the teaching profession,” Reynolds said.

Most school districts in Iowa have something else on their mind – the state hasn’t set allowable growth state funding so districts can set their budgets. Grundy Center Schools Superintendent Cass Murra told Branstad and Reynolds that allowable growth needs to be set so schools can plan their budgets and pay their bills.

“We really need our budgets set,” Murra said. “We need to know what amount we are going to be given soon.”

Branstad said the Senate Democrats are holding up the process.

“Really, the ball’s in the Senate’s court right now,” Branstad said.

As far as the healthiest state initiative, Branstad is encouraged by how many communities are looking into their own programs to get fit.

He would also like to see measures and funding put in place to keep physicians in the state.

After the stop in Grundy Center, the two state leaders traveled down Highway 175 to Eldora for a presentation at the Eldora City Hall.

Branstad said it’s important to him to talk about his plan across the state while getting feedback from Iowans.

“We believe it’s important to have government that’s very open and accessible,” Branstad said.