Reactions from lawmakers as Branstad unveils $7B budget - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Reactions from lawmakers as Branstad unveils $7B budget

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DES MOINES (AP) -

Gov. Terry Branstad is offering a budget proposal that includes a tax break for veterans and incentives to encourage Internet expansion in rural Iowa, but some Democrats are criticizing it as not ambitious enough.

Branstad unveiled his roughly $7 billion financial plan Tuesday. It also includes proposals to combat school bullying, freeze tuition at state universities and increase funding for apprenticeship programs.

Branstad is talking about those goals in his annual "Condition of the State" speech before a joint session of the state legislature.

In his prepared remarks, Branstad -- who is expected to run for a sixth term -- repeatedly uses the phrase, "Iowa is working."

Branstad's efforts are more modest than last year, when he collaborated with lawmakers on a property tax cut, new education spending and an expansion of low-income health care.

One of his Democratic challengers for governor, Jack Hatch, said Branstad's proposals are worse than modest.

"This is the same speech Iowans have heard before, dating back to the early 1980s," Hatch said in a press release Tuesday morning. "Expectations are pretty low for Governor Branstad. His agenda for Iowa is a timid, lukewarm retread of the past. It’s too bad, really, that this Governor is focused more on his record for longevity than on Iowa’s future.

"The speech was flat and uninspired. The total lack of vision was disappointing but not surprising. The Governor said nothing about mental health, low wages, clean water, roads and bridges or cutting health care costs."

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan echoed Hatch's sentiment.

"From putting corporations and the wealthy ahead of Iowa’s middle class, to fudging jobs numbers, to restricting women from making their own health decisions, and turning his back on increasing the minimum wage, it’s clear that Terry Branstad is letting Iowa fall behind the rest of the country," Brennan said in a release Tuesday. "The too small gains and even bigger losses bitterly disappoint Iowans, and the Governor would rather ignore reality than admit that the classic GOP top-down approach simply is not working."

Not all Democrats were pessimistic about Branstad's speech. State Rep. Bob Kressig of Cedar Falls said lawmakers were ready to work with the governor.

"If we keep focused on the middle class, we can approve some common sense solutions and give Iowans more economic security," Kressig said in a release Tuesday afternoon. "I was pleased to hear the Governor talk about issues like renewable energy, keeping tuition affordable, making sure UNI receives adequate funding, and connecting more homes and businesses in rural Iowa to broadband technology."

Other Republicans, including House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, saw promise in Branstad's agenda.

"The governor struck a hopeful and optimistic tone," Paulsen said in a release Tuesday afternoon. "His agenda is focused on jobs for veterans and rural Iowans along with helping those who need the training and experience to increase their personal incomes."

“Governor Branstad wants to continue the momentum of the last three years, moving the state forward after years of mismanagement," Upmeyer said. "We look forward to continuing to work with the governor to find even more ways to restore predictability and certainty for Iowans."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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