Branstad speaks at Shelby County Town Hall meeting, Wednesday


June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds welcomed a crowd of about 40 people to a Town Hall meeting in Harlan, Wednesday morning. When Branstad took questions from the audience, Shelby County Supervisor Board Chair Steve Kenkel asked about the secondary roads funding in the county and how the state was going to help. Kenkel told Branstad Shelby County currently does not have any bond debt, due to bonding for roads but he said if funding wasn’t made available in the near future, that will likely change. Branstad noted Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino has laid out plans in several forms to help with the road funding for hall pic

” “I asked him (Trombino) then, okay, we know we have a challenge, the gas tax is very unpopular and brings in less money because people are going to more fuel efficient cars. So we need to come up with a new way to provide financing. He put together a whole series of options. And, one of those was to replace the gas tax or a portion of it with an excise tax on gasoline, like a sales tax does. So that would go up when the price of gas goes up. Some of the other ideas would be to give a local option tax and raising the fees for excessive weight loads.”

The Governor said the legislature had taken a look at the options from Trombino but nothing was finalized. He stressed they would continue to fight for those options and work with legislation to get a common ground. After the meeting, Governor Branstad said he feels confident about his chance in November’s General Election. “I feel really good about this. First of all I think we made great progress in getting the state financial house in order. We made great progress in our jobs goals and I think we have the state going in the right direction. I think people see that.”

Branstad was asked about the lack of youth in Shelby County and Iowa as a whole, and how to get them back. “Well the key is jobs and I think as we are able to grow the economy and have more job opportunities that will be the key to attracting people back to Iowa as well as keeping young people here when they finish their education. That is the reason we put such a big focus on STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. One of the areas of growth in rural Iowa has been renewable fuels and all these other products made from corn and soil beans as well as revitalizing the cattle industry.”

On the topic of student loan debt, Branstad said the three major universities in Iowa will not see an increase in tuition for Iowa students for the second consecutive year. He also mentioned students need to be frugal. “The other thing is to encourage students to be frugal and don’t borrow every dime you can borrow. There are a lot of opportunities to borrow but you have to pay it back with interest. I didn’t get all my loans paid back until after I was Governor. But I never missed a payment and it was a good investment but I only borrowed what I had too. So that’s my advice to students; be careful, don’t live high off the hog. You know be frugal and don’t incur any debt you don’t have to.”

(Joel McCall/KNOD)