ARTICLE

Fact Checker: Branstad's 2015 Condition of the State

Gov. Terry Branstad delivers the Condition of the State address to the a joint session of the legislature at the State Capitol building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Gov. Terry Branstad delivers the Condition of the State address to the a joint session of the legislature at the State Capitol building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Introduction

Governor Terry Branstad’s 2015 Condition of the State address made claims about Iowa’s job growth, Home Base Iowa initiative, business investment and tax cuts.

Source of claim

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad Click here for the full text of the speech.

Analysis

Jobs claims:

“In the past four years, 168,700 jobs have been created [and] Iowa’s unemployment rate has been slashed by nearly 30 percent.”

“Our unemployment rate is the 10th lowest in the nation.”

 

Iowa’s seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment through November shows 168,700 gross jobs created since January 2011.

But gross jobs created isn’t a measure used by economists because it doesn’t take into account jobs eliminated during the same time period. That would be like counting babies born and saying Iowa’s population had grown by that amount without subtracting the number of people who died.

Net job growth subtracts the number of lost jobs from the number of new jobs. Iowa saw net non-farm job growth of 82,500 between January 2011 and November 2014, according to the same report from Iowa Workforce Development.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Branstad’s job-creation claim is technically true, but not an accurate measure of the job market. We give it a D.

But when the governor talks about unemployment rates, he gets an A.

Iowa’s unemployment was 6.1 percent in January 2011, compared to 4.3 percent in November. This is a 29.5 percent reduction in employment. The state’s November unemployment rate was indeed the 10th lowest in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Veterans claims:

“Today, over 600 veterans have been matched with jobs in Iowa through our Home Base Iowa initiative. Eight cities and counties have become Home Base Iowa Communities ... and eight college campuses have earned the Home Base Iowa CHAMPS designation ... Already, our work together has resulted in over 24,000 jobs being posted on the Home Base Iowa jobs bank.”

 

Kathy Anderson, Home Base Iowa program manager, said 807 veterans had been matched with jobs through Home Base Iowa. Numbers are tracked through the Home Base Iowa website and Iowa Business Council, she said.

The eight schools designated as Home Base Iowa CHAMPS are University of Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, Hawkeye Community College, University of Dubuque, Upper Iowa University, Des Moines Area Community College and Mount Mercy University.

The Home Base Iowa website had roughly 23,450 jobs listed Tuesday. Anderson said the number ranges from 24,000 and 26,000 when including jobs pledged by Home Base Iowa companies.

We give Branstad an A for these claims.

 

Economic claims:

“Over $9 billion in private capital investment has located in Iowa ... We passed the largest tax cut in our state’s history.”

 

Branstad uses figures from The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) for his claims about investment by private companies, such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

A review of Business Assistance Awards from January 2011, when Branstad’s term began, shows a capital investment of $9.5 billion from 245 active business projects, according to a report provided by IEDA Spokeswoman Tina Hoffman.

The figure is actually conservative because it is based on the investment companies can guarantee, she said. For example, Facebook, which opened a data center in Altoona, promised a capital investment of $300 million, but when its campus is fully built the investment will be much closer to $1 billion, she said.

Branstad’s claim doesn’t fully account for incentives provided to those companies. The state has set aside $411 million for project assistance, according to IEDA. Breaks from local municipalities, exemptions provided by the tax code, or grants through other agencies, such as the Iowa Department of Transportation, also aren’t included.

For tax cuts, Branstad signed a wide-ranging bill promising tax relief to all classes of Iowa property — agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial —- as well as breaks to Iowa income taxpayers, The Gazette reported in June 2013. The plan is expected to provide $4.4 billion in property tax relief over 10 years and $90 million a year in income tax savings.

That amounts to “the biggest tax cut in Iowa history,” The Gazette reported at that time.

We give Branstad’s economic claims an A.

Conclusion

With mostly As and one D, we give Branstad’s Condition of the State address a B overall.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.