Gov. Reynolds outlines goals in Condition of the State address
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Gov. Kim Reynolds announced several major goals for 2021 during her Condition of the State address Tuesday night.
Reynolds praised Iowans’ resolve during a difficult 2020.
“We’ve been beaten and battered in about every way imaginable and some unimaginable,” Reynolds said. “But together, we’ve met every challenge with bravery and outright grit.”
Reynolds spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on school districts and urged the legislature to quickly put a bill on her desk for schools to offer all in-person learning.
“We can’t wait any longer. Our kids can’t wait any longer. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about education, it’s that our parents need choice,” Reynolds said.
But several Democratic legislators spoke out against a state-wide requirement for school districts, with House Democratic leader Todd Pritchard calling it a “dangerous move.”
“All of them have had different challenges based on factors that are unique to that school district, whether rural, dealing with the pandemic. So this one size fits all approach, it’s just simply isn’t safe,” Pritchard said.
Reynolds also touched on her plans for the fiscal year 2022-2023 budget, which currently increases mental health funding by $15 million, and includes $25 million in child care development block grants to help encourage child care startups. It also sets aside $450 million for increasing access to universal broadband over the next three years, with a goal of statewide, accessible broadband by 2025.
“As we’ve seen during the pandemic, high-speed internet is as vital to our communities as running water and electricity; if they don’t have it, they can’t grow,” Reynolds said.
And while several Democrats said they were excited to see the large commitment to broadband, as it would especially benefit rural areas of the state, Senate Democratic leader Zach Wahls also spoke out against the governor’s mention of eliminating triggers that slowly roll out tax cuts put into place in 2018.
”The triggers aren’t going to start taking effect for 3 fiscal years. But when they do take effect, the impact will be staggering,” Wahls said. “And they’re going to dramatically hamper our ability to make this kind of investments, like we need in broadband, childcare, and healthcare.”
Reynolds spoke in support of eliminating those triggers, saying the state is starting in a good financial position and isn’t looking at “tough” budget cuts or raising taxes.
“We can start by getting rid of the unnecessary triggers that were put in place in 2018,” Reynolds said. “Let’s make Iowa more competitive and guarantee our taxpayers that they can keep more of their hard-earned money.”
Reynolds also spoke about her plans to introduce a bill both addressing racial justice and supporting law enforcement. She says the bill will increase penalties for attacking law enforcement, as well as ban racial profiling.
With majorities in the Iowa House and Senate, Republicans are positioned to advance her agenda, but Democrats say they’re eager to get to work in the 2021 legislative session. Wahls said he sees an opportunity to lead during these tough times.
“We’re very open to working with her where we can, and there are things in this speech we are anxious to work with the Governor on, with the broadband or civil rights, and those types of things,” Wahls said.
Watch the entire Condition of the State address below:
Copyright 2021 KCRG. All rights reserved.