Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad says state officials are being too heavy-handed with the state’s assisted living centers. Some assisted living facilities are using a loophole to avoid state inspections. Branstad says he wants to close that loophole, but he’s also sensitive to complaints from the facilities.

“State goverNment needs to work with the agencies that are providing this service to do it in a collaborative way and a supportive way because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about even agencies that have received awards for the quality of care being nit-picked on things that really aren’t affecting the quality of care for the people,” Branstad says.

Branstad vows to install “new leadership” in the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals if he’s re-elected to a fifth term as governor this fall. Branstad says Culver and his top managers have ruined the reputation of another state agency — the Iowa Department on Aging. Earlier this year the director of the agency resigned amid reports he was blocking the Long Term Care Ombudsman from properly advocating for seniors.

“Employees didn’t feel comfortable bringing things up. The commission members didn’t feel comfortable. The Long Term Care Ombudsman was told, frankly, that she couldn’t even talk to the legislature…This is a hostile work environment. It makes no sense,” Branstad says. “…This is an example of the mismanagement of government that we’ve seen occur under this administration.” Branstad says if elected he’s reelected as governor, he’ll sign legislation that would phase out the state’s tax on pensions.

Branstad made his comments Wednesday afternoon during taping of a program sponsored by A-A-R-P. It will air Friday night on Iowa Public Television. Culver taped his segment of the show Tuesday. Culver’s campaign issued a statement late Wednesday, saying Branstad would put seniors at risk by moving to ease state inspections of assisted living centers.