Republican candidate Terry Branstad says if he’s elected to a fifth term as governor, he’ll do all he can to ensure the state supports members of the military.  “We’re at a very critical time in our state and nation’s history,” Branstad says. “Our veterans have been called upon again and again to defend this country and to help preserve our freedom and in recent years we’ve had more deployments than every before.  It’s really stretched not only the active duty but the National Guard and the Reserve.”

Branstad says he supports the veterans-related proposals which the current governor, Democrat Chet Culver, signed into law this year.  Republicans in the legislature, however, raised concerns about extending unemployment benefits to the spouses of soldiers who quit their jobs and move because their spouse has a new military assignment. Branstad says he, too, objects to using the unemployment taxes businesses pay to finance new jobless benefits for military spouses.

“It’s not really the way it should be done,” Branstad says. “…That unemployment fund is being depleted and the taxes are being dramatically increased on employers and that’s something that hurts our state and hurts our businesses.” 

Branstad wouldn’t rescind those benefits if he’s reelected governor, but Branstad says he’d look for a “more appropriate funding source” than the state’s unemployment trust fund which is bankrolled by taxes from Iowa businesses. “Doing it on the backs of employers, especially at this time when the state is facing some severe layoff problems, I don’t think was a wise decision,” Branstad says.

Another 2010 bill signed into law by Governor Culver would force employers to allow veterans to have Veterans Day off from work.  Branstad says that “makes sense” to him. “I was governor when we restored Veterans Day as a state holiday, by the way. It used to be they moved that date to a date that wasn’t as meaningful,” Branstad says.  “…It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that the armistice was signed that ended World War I.  That’s the significance of having November 11th as Veterans Day.”

However, some Republicans in the legislature complained Iowa business owners should be allowed to decide whether their workers may take a day off on Veterans Day.

Branstad is a Vietnam-era veteran. Branstad was drafted after he graduated from college and served as a Military Police Officer in North Carolina at Fort Bragg. Branstad hosted a barbeque over the noon-hour today for some of the 160 veterans who have signed onto his “Veterans for Branstad Coalition.” 

Click on the following link to listen to an mp3 of Branstad’s eight-minute, midday news conference before the BBQ:  TBvets