FAIRFIELD — Some questions at the town hall meeting were tougher than others.
Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke to a crowd at the Fairfield Public Library on a rainy Friday morning.
Unemployment has gone from over 6 percent to 4.9 percent and there’s been $7 billion in capital investment state government is smaller by about 900 employees, primarily through attrition. Our Legislature spends less than revenue.
“We were left with kind of a financial mess,” Branstad said, adding that Iowa has run things a lot better than neighboring Illinois.
Branstad talked about tax reform. One year at a time, he said, Iowa will reduce commercial taxes 5 percent until most Iowa taxes are equal. And since local governments may lose money on the deal, the state will make them whole “dollar for dollar.”
That even-handed approach to lowering taxes on business, he said, will help draw more economic development to the state.
He also discussed making Iowans some of the healthiest people in the nation. In a related note, he said, there needs to be an incentive to increase the number of doctors in Iowa. It’s not going to help economic development if potential business owners think there are too few doctors. Right now, Iowa is 50th out of 50 states when it comes to emergency care and OB/GYN doctors. Iowa is 48th in the nation for psychiatric care.
“We train plenty of doctors in Iowa,” he said. “They do their residency out of state — and don’t come back.”
He’s adding $2 million to the budget for medical residencies to be done in Iowa. He’s adding the same amount to assist medical school loan assistance for doctors who practice in under-served rural areas. And he wants a board to look at each malpractice suit to see if it has merit, which can help lower malpractice insurance. Other states have done so succesfully, he said.