Governor Terry Branstad used his annual “Condition of the State” message today to make a strong pitch for a steady stream of state funding of water quality projects.
“Unfortunately, the issue of protecting our state’s water quality risks tearing apart the fabric of Iowa, pitting Des Moines against rural Iowa,” Branstad said. “Simply put, we must significantly accelerate our water quality efforts in order to avoid eroding our path to prosperity.”
Branstad used the word “monumental” to describe his plan. He wants legislators to extend the state sales tax for school infrastructure projects and dedicate the inflationary growth expected in those tax collections to water quality initiatives.
“Unfortunately, too often we are presented with a false choice — raise taxes on hardworking taxpayers or do nothing,” Branstad said.
Doing nothing, Branstad warned, is no longer an option when it comes to addressing water quality. Branstad said the state faces “unique issues” that cannot be addressed without a “bipartisan” approach.
“When we work together, challenges are overcome, results are delivered and Iowans have a government that works for them,” Branstad said. “When we fail to work together, challenges become steeper, results are fleeting and the government fails the very people we should be serving…It is my sincere desire to work with all of you to address the challenges we have before us.”
Branstad today presented a $7.5 billion state budget plan to legislators. That’s 2.3 percent larger than the current year’s budget. Branstad’s extra spending would mostly be dedicated to the state’s education system and to the state-run Medicaid program which provides health care coverage to poor and disabled Iowans.
State officials several years ago separated state gambling taxes into another fund. The governor is calling for using $65 million in gambling taxes over the next five years to renovate the State Historical Building in Des Moines. Branstad’s pledging to help raise another $14 million in private donations to complete the project.