Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her policy agenda for the new year during Tuesday’s Condition of the State address. Iowans have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the first legislative session of the Reynolds era.
We found plenty of points to take issue with in Reynolds’ speech, and a long list of important policy questions remain unanswered. However, on some of the most important issues facing Iowa, Reynolds is showing a willingness to listen to the critics.
• On tax reform, Reynolds vowed “this is not the year” for corporate tax cuts and called for a multiyear effort to simplify the state tax code and reconsider corporate tax credits. It would be foolish to push a major tax overhaul amid our current budget shortfall.
• On Medicaid, Reynolds admitted “mistakes were made” as Iowa privatized key pieces of the health care program. That simple admission is a vast improvement over the head-in-the-sand approach taken up until now, even if Reynolds still is lacking specific ideas for improvements.
• And on mental health, Reynolds acknowledged “Iowans suffering from mental illness don’t need hospitalization.” She signaled her interest in establishing residential access centers to offer crisis stabilization services to Iowans in need.
We would have liked to hear more specific details, such as how Reynolds plans to pay for her proposals. Still, this week’s address serves as a good starting point.
Iowans are looking for Reynolds to step out of former Gov. Terry Branstad’s shadow and put forth her own vision. To that challenge, Reynolds delivered a mixed response with this week’s address.
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On one hand, she repeatedly fell back on the Branstad administration’s record of accomplishments. On the other hand, however, Reynolds charted her own course on some major issues and successfully wove her personal story into a compelling speech.
Many Iowans can identify with Reynolds when she talks about her experience as an adult college student, her family’s struggles with substance abuse, and sexual harassment faced by too many women.
“Iowans are good people, they’re humble people, and no matter our differences on policy and politics, we must always strive to reflect the goodness of those we represent,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds struck a tone as Iowa’s optimistic unifier. That’s the Reynolds we want to see more of.
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