Republican Terry Branstad will deliver the 2012 “Condition of the State” message today, an annual tradition for Iowa governors. Branstad is in year two of his fifth term as governor and this will be his 17th “Condition of the State” address.

“Seventeen is the number,” Branstad told reporters yesterday. “It’s a lucky a number. It’s also my wedding anniversary number. It’s also the day that I was drafted into the Army, so consider 17 to be a very lucky number and I’m excited about it.”

Branstad was drafted on September 17, 1969. He was married on June 17, 1972 — the same day as the Watergate break-in. 

Branstad has used “Condition of the State” speeches in the past to unveil new proposals, like a change to the state’s income tax system — which his fellow Republicans ultimately rejected nearly two decades ago. Branstad said he doesn’t plan to release any “surprise” proposals during his speech today. Branstad doesn’t intend to speak for much longer than half an hour either.

“I’m not going to try to cover the whole waterfront,” Branstad said. “I’m really going to focus on jobs and education.” 

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal on Mondaysaid the state must do more to recruit, develop and support great teachers.

“The simple truth is that one of the best things the Iowa legislature can do to help create jobs in this state is to increase student achievement,” Gronstal said. “I look forward to working with Governor Branstad, with members of the Iowa House and with Iowa’s parents and educators to keep improving Iowa schools.”

Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, said any education reform package should address the shortage of skilled workers in Iowa.

“In the Farm Crisis of the ’80s, Iowa lost population because there were no jobs for the unemployed,” Kibbie said. “In this recession and recovery, we face times when there are jobs, but where there aren’t workers to fill them. I believe we need to make a substantial investment in job training and re-training and the best way to do that is through our community college system.”

House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer said for too long, legislators simply resorted to giving more money to schools.

“Businesses large and small have warned us that in order for them to grow, they need a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce,” Upmeyer said. “…This session we will take a comprehensive look on how we can be more effective in educating our children.”

Last year’s “Condition of the State” message was given by out-going Governor Chet Culver, as Governor Branstad was not yet sworn into office for his fifth term.  Branstad did deliver a budget address to legislators at the end of January and surprised them with his call to increase the state tax on casinos, a proposal which legislators rejected.   

Listen to legislative leaders deliver speeches on the opening day of the 2012 session.