On January 12, 2010, Governor Culver gave his Condition of the State address. He began by stating that although Iowa has faced two major statewide challenges, the natural disasters and the national recession, the condition of the state is resilient. The Governor credited the resiliency in part to the passage of the I-JOBS bill, the statewide infrastructure and job creation initiative, which in the short term is creating jobs, but in the long term will strengthen the economy and allow the State to speed up its flood recovery efforts.
The Governor set forth additional examples of the State’s resiliency including earning the highest bond rating for good fiscal management, a balanced budget for three years in a row, the 8th fastest growing economy in the United States, recognition as the 4th best place in America to do business, number 1 in terms of low cost of doing business of any of the fifty states, Des Moines named by MarketWatch as the number one city in America to do business, and the more than 8,000 new, green jobs in the State.
Governor Culver discussed the ten steps he took to manage the State through the economic downturn beginning with cutting spending by 3 percent, freezing state hiring, cutting employee travel and reducing the State’s health insurance costs by 20 million dollars in 2008. In 2009, spending was further cut by 10percent, the Governor’s salary was cut by 10 percent and the Governor ordered the state Department heads to do the same in addition to the 3,500 mandated furlough days for non-contract employees in the executive branch, and a cost and job-saving agreement was negotiated with the two largest State unions. He followed those steps with a plea to pass an appropriations bill early this session to restore some of the cuts to the Department of Public Defense in anticipation of the deployment of thirty-five hundred members of the National Guard to Afghanistan.
He also used his address to list his top legislative and budget priorities for the 2010 session. His top priority is job creation and job retention and he called for people to fund community college job training and the Department of Workforce Development, to create more green jobs to fully fund the Iowa Power Fund, further invest in infrastructure, stimulate the economy and continue flood recovery efforts. He followed his top priority with other priorities such as a request to enact the remaining recommendations in his Government Efficiency Report and to act on the Tax Credit Review Panel’s recommendations, a major reorganization of state government, funding the Iowa State Patrol and Department of Public Safety, to pass legislation required to allow the State to compete for federal Race to the Top funds, and in the budget, to fully fund two percent allowable growth for the public schools.
Governor Culver concluded his address with these words, “Good luck in the days ahead, as we embrace the future, making this “Iowa’s Century” – with an unwavering faith that our best days are ahead of us.”