Branstad and Reynolds stop in Harlan


August 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was in Harlan Tuesday, touting his administration’s accomplishments on the jobs front, and telling locals what else needs to be done to get more Iowans back to work. His visit was part of Branstad’s “Jobs for Iowa” tour, and are a continuation of the theme he and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds began before they were elected.

Speaking to a crowd of about 50 people at the Petersen Family Wellness Center in Harlan, Tuesday, Branstad said he wants to reduce commercial property taxes. He and Reynolds spelled out their accomplishments since taking office, such as getting a two-year budget passed during the contentious 2011 legislative session. But commercial property taxes were not reduced, and that’s something Branstad long has said he wanted done in order to stimulate economic development.

While the focus of Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting essentially focused on jobs and the economy, when it came time for questions from the audience, the first two pertained to education, and allowed the governor to promote his plans to attract better entry-level teachers and pay the best teachers more. He acknowledged it will cost more, especially in terms of teacher salaries, but Branstad added the state will make it harder to get into the teaching profession.

62-year old Paul Leinen, of Harlan, the former owner of a farm supply store in Portsmouth, asked Branstad about government regulations. Branstad said he had replaced many of the top people in state government departments, such as the Department of Natural Resources, and expects them to work in a more collaborative manner than their predecessors had. Leinen told the Omaha World-Herald afterward, that he was pleased with the governor’s response, because it’s a “Step in the right direction.”

Branstad and Reynolds are scheduled to tour western Iowa through Thursday, with “Jobs for Iowa” public meetings scheduled for today in Rock Rapids, Sibley and Primghar; and tomorrow (Thursday) in Cherokee, Storm Lake, Pocahontas and Rockwell City.