Julia Shanahan

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her Condition of the State address in the House chamber of the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Jan. 15, 2019. In the address, her first as an elected governor, she largely outlined bipartisan initiatives which have received widespread support.

‘The future is now,’ Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says in Condition of the State

Reynolds' second Condition of the State address — her first as an elected governor — focused on mental health, correctional reform, and education and workforce training.

January 15, 2019

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered her second Condition of the State address on Jan. 15 — her first as an elected governor. Reynolds laid out mental health, education, correctional reform, and workforce development as priorities for the upcoming session.

The next four years are a chance to determine the course of state government now that she has been elected to her own four-year term, she told legislators in her address.

My vision for the future of Iowa hasn’t changed,” Reynolds said. “But the future I see isn’t around the corner, or after the next election. The future is now. The time is now to deliver on the promises we’ve made to Iowans looking for a way up.”

RELATED: Iowa governor envisions a state ‘overflowing with opportunity’

Then-Lt. Gov. Reynolds took over the governor’s office in 2017 when Gov. Terry Branstad resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.

Her speech also focused on a theme of second chances. She proposed restoring voting rights to felons and initiatives to employ and train prisoners and to protect employers who hire people with criminal records.

Senate Minority leader Janet Petersen after the Condition of the State: “She outlined priorities that I think will receive bipartisan support … She made a lot of promises on the campaign trail, and it is time to make due on those promises.”

— Daily Iowan Politics (@DIpolitics) January 15, 2019

“She outlined some priorities that I think will receive bipartisan support on. She made a lot of promises on the campaign trail, and it is time to make due on those promises,” Petersen said. “So we look forward to seeing those proposals as they come forward this legislative session.”

Read the full speech here.

Mental-health reform

Reynolds proposed to set aside $11 million in funding for fiscal 2020 to continue mental-health services supporting legislation passed in 2018 that expanded resources, including six access centers for patients who do not need to be hospitalized.

In 2013, the statewide mental-health system shifted from a county-by-county system to a region-based system.

She also told the chamber she wanted to modify a spending cap that limited some regions’ budget and spending priorities.

“There may still be more to do, so I’m asking everyone in this chamber to work with me to ensure that we have sustainable funding that will keep our mental-health system strong,” Reynolds said.

To remedy what legislators and the governor call a psychiatry shortage, the governor set aside an additional $1 million for four psychiatry residencies at the University of Iowa for doctors who practice in rural communities.

RELATED: State of Iowa could face physician assistant shortage

She proposed an additional $3 million be used to train teachers in mental health and behavioral health for fiscal 2020.

She said she will introduce a bill to create a mental-health system for children to work in tandem with the regional adult system. A committee met over the last session to provide recommendations.

On Jan. 14, Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, told The Daily Iowan the committee had laid out concrete recommendations she believed would pass this session.

“The days of merely talking are over,” Reynolds said about mental-health reform.

Boosting education funding

Fiscal 2020 will likely see increased funding to education with a recommended increase of $140 million, $94 million of which will focus on K-12 education.

“A strong K-12 education system is the foundation of any state, and Iowa has a solid foundation to build upon,” she said.

Reynolds is recommending higher-education funding be increased by $46 million, with $18 million of that heading to the three regent universities — Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, which would each receive $7 million, and the University of Northern Iowa, which would receive $4 million.

RELATED: Will higher education remain accessible as funding becomes less public?

Reynolds also touted her Future Ready Iowa initiative, which was created in 2018 and included 18 summits last fall across the state. To move the initiative forward, Reynolds is calling on the Legislature to appropriate $20 million for the program.

“Future Ready Iowa is a powerful tool to grow family incomes, meet employer needs and strengthen communities,” Reynolds said during her remarks.

She also highlighted schools across the country to continue implementing STEM programming.

“Kids today are growing up immersed in a world of digital technology,” Reynolds said. “The workforce is continually impacted by innovation and globalization. And we need an education system that adapts to those changes.”

Rural Iowa: preventing ‘fading’

Revitalizing rural communities was also a key point in Reynolds’ address. She proposed splitting $20 million over fiscal 2020 and 2021 for rural-broadband access.

The recommendation came from a series of Empower Rural Iowa Summits that Reynolds created by executive order last year. In her speech on Jan. 15, she also announced a center for rural revitalization in the Iowa Economic Authority.

In her fiscal 2020 budget, she also proposed doubling tax credits for workforce housing set aside for rural communities.

‘Second chances’

Reynolds proposed two constitutional amendments — one that would restore voting rights for felons and another that would enshrine victim rights in the Iowa Constitution. Constitutional amendments go through a two-year-plus process.


Briefly in her speech, Reynolds mentioned tax reform, which will be a factor in budget years until 2023. The Legislature passed a tax-change package last year, which will continue to reduce taxes if certain “triggers” are met.

On Jan. 14, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said he wanted to put Iowa on a “pro-growth” agenda.

RELATED: Iowa legislators still hammering out deals on tax reform, budget as the session carries on

Senate File 2417, which was signed into law in the 2018 session, reduced individual and corporate income taxes in waves, while raising sales and use taxes. There are two series of checkpoints that budget revenue projections will have to meet in order for the majority of income tax cuts to be enacted in 2023.

The current budget year is estimated to end with a $127 million surplus and a $196 million surplus is expected for the end of the current budget year.

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