Earlier this month, Gov. Terry Branstad delivered his 17th Condition of the State address to the Legislature. That's a record unequaled by any other Hawkeye State governor.
More importantly, however, Branstad articulated a vision that is precisely on target for not only the months just ahead, but for the long-term future of this state.
The governor rightly takes pride in the accomplishments of the first year of his fifth term.
Predictability and stability have been restored to the state's budget.
He has made certain that decisions made were sustainable for the long term.
The stage has been set for strong economic expansion.
Having restored fiscal sanity to the management of the state's affairs, Branstad is now ready to tackle an ambitious agenda this year aimed at further job creation and reforming the state's education system.
On the job-creation front, a key part of Branstad's game plan is reducing commercial and industrial property taxes by 40 percent over the next eight years. Disagreements between the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House stalled the major push during the 2011 legislative session to achieve that goal. It is imperative that a way to accomplish this reform be found this year.
Early in January, the governor outlined a package of education reforms that will require thorough consideration by lawmakers. He made clear in his Condition of the State speech that achieving these improvements is a task to which he is firmly committed.
"The bottom line is education must be a greater priority for our state," Branstad said.
The governor reminded legislators that achieving a world-class education system is at the heart of any sensible plan for tomorrow.
"This is not about this administration or the next, or the one after that," he said. "It is about our children's future and our state's prosperity and growth. Let's work together on a bipartisan basis to put in place common-sense solutions that are sustainable."
Branstad challenged lawmakers to work with him to "solve our common problems and bring to Iowa unprecedented economic expansion and unequaled educational opportunities."
The Messenger urges legislators to heed the governor's challenge. Obviously, this is an election year. Partisan disagreements are inevitable. They need not, however, take precedence over the call to serve the public well that should motivate all those who hold public office.