Branstad profiled in governor's race

1. How do you propose to balance the state budget?

I intend to put together a five-year strategic budget plan for the state and update it on an annual basis. I would require the Legislature to pass a biennial budget. We have to go through every department and agency and set priorities and make sure our resources are going to do things that are most critically needed.

2. How can the state support the economic engine of agriculture?

Agriculture is the bright spot in the Iowa economy. Commodity prices are good. We’re a leader in renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. I’ve been a strong supporter. We were the first state to pass a renewable energy standard. We are second in wind energy. We need to see the federal government raise the ethanol blend wall from 10 to 15 percent. We need to change our incentives in Iowa to encourage more use of 15 percent ethanol instead of 10 percent. I was one of the founders of the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition. We need to encourage more use of E85 vehicles.

3. What innovative ideas do you have to fund rural schools?


Six rural school districts have gone together with Kirkwood Community College to offer higher levels of math and science and some vocational programs that they couldn’t do alone. We need to look at more charter schools, more collaboration with neighboring districts and community colleges and using the Iowa Communications system to provide distance learning. We need to set high standards and reward good schools and good teachers. I would like to restore the Phase I money for beginning teachers.

4. Do you support local control of the siting of large confined animal feeding operations?

I don’t think we should have local control. We need uniform state standards, and they need to be strictly enforced.

5. How do you propose to strengthen Iowa's extension service and experiment station which have withstood steep cuts in recent years?

This goes back to Gov. Culver’s 10 percent across-the-board cut. That put Iowa State University in a very difficult situation. As a result, ISU made dramatic cuts in Extension and that has had a big impact in rural Iowa. I want to assure stability and predictability in state funding so we can try to find better and more efficient ways to deliver those services.

6. What can be changed to slow the rate of increase in property taxes?

The biggest problem is that the state has shifted the burden to local governments, and they have no choice but to pick it up out of property taxes or make tough cuts themselves. We need to quit over promising and live with the 99 percent spending limitations. We need to assure local governments that the state will fulfill its commitments so they can count on receiving what they were promised. When I was governor before, we systematically increased state aid for schools and reduced the property tax share.

7. What is your vision for making the state more energy self-sufficient?


When I was governor before, we passed a renewable energy standard which has been copied in 28 states. We really became a leader in ethanol, biodiesel and wind energy. Today we see some challenges because of roadblocks that have been placed in the way by things like the EPA. If we could get the blend wall raised, get the tax credit extended for ethanol and biodiesel, I think there is great opportunity.

8. How would you promote the state's local food efforts?

We’ve done that through the farmers markets. Also, the wine industry is an area where we’ve had dramatic growth. Things like bed and breakfasts, tourism and the Main Street Program, I think there is a lot we can do there. I think we need to link up more restaurants and chefs with local producers.

9. What steps do we take to protect our state against future flooding disasters?

We need to continue to work to improve soil conservation programs, use of wetlands and buffer strips. We need to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the levees and make sure we protect the communities along these streams and river. You never know where you’re going to have the heavy rains. We have several dams in Iowa that need repair as well.

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