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Former governor wants old job back

By Staff | Dec 4, 2009

FORMER IOWA GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD addresses the Fort Dodge Noon Rotary Club Monday. Branstad is touring Iowa in the run-up to his anticipated announcement that he is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

BFormer Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad spent Monday talking with economic development leaders around Webster County as part of his continued exploratory run to get his old job back as master of Terrace Hill in Des Moines.

Addressing a crowd of approximately 62 people at the Fort Dodge Noon Rotary Club meeting, Branstad explained why Iowa needs a change in leadership.

Branstad said he would withhold an official announcement of his candidacy for a fifth term until after Jan. 1; but when pressed further he told reporters later in the day, “Unofficially, I’m running.”

The 63-year-old former four-term governor, who left office in 1999, was short on specifics for programs and actions, but said, “I’ve been watching what’s been going on at the state level, and I have real concerns about what I’m seeing.

“I felt I left the state in a very good position.”

However, after a decade of Democratic administrations, the state now faces a projected budget deficit of $1 billion, Branstad said.

“Unlike the (1980s) farm crisis, this was not caused by high interest rates and low commodity prices,” he said. “This was caused by bad decisions that’ve been made by our governor and our legislators.”

An increasingly partisan political atmosphere means that good ideas have been rejected because they were proposed by members of the minority party, Branstad said.

“I will work to restore our ability to work together to get things accomplished,” he said.

Concerning rural property taxes, Branstad said he did not see a need to reconfigure the current formula. Iowa’s ag property tax formula is based on a five-year production cycle. He noted that current property valuations are now taking in an exceptional period of productivity during 2005 and 2006.

Nevertheless, he said he saw no reason to change the formula, adding that Iowa has benefitted from the system in good times, “so we have to accept what comes on the other side of it.

“But if valuations go up, then (property tax) levies must go down and we must make sure that local governments don’t use it as a windfall.”

Branstad said he would also reexamine the state’s tax credit, especially for research and development. “Such credits have benefitted (development of) ethanol and food processing.”

When asked about any specific ag products that should be targetted for tax credits, Branstad was non-committal.

“I’m meeting with leaders from around the state and we are studying what can be done,” he said. However, he said any future developments would likely be in based on a regional basis.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he added. “Others have done this.” He noted that Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s governor, has been successful with regional developments and hopes to learn from Daniels what has mad his efforts successful.

Branstad said he would work to return Iowa to a “pay-as-you-go” system, in which expenditures would not exceed revenues.

That includes supporting an amendment to the Iowa Constitution limiting state spending to 99 percent of projected revenue.

That law is currently on the books, but Branstad said it has been routinely ignored.

“I think we need to put in some constitutional protections so the Legislature can not circumvent it,” he said.

Jesse Helling, city editor for the Messenger in Fort Dodge contributed to this report.

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