COUNCIL BLUFFS — Launching his re-election campaign, Gov. Terry Branstad touted his record in a rebounding Iowa economy.
Branstad told a friendly crowd Saturday at Tish’s Restaurant here that state government has gone from a budget deficit approaching $1 billion to a surplus almost as large.
He said the state has replenished its emergency funds; reduced unemployment from about 6 percent to 4.4 percent; created 130,000 jobs; cut property taxes by $4.4 billion over 10 years; and adjusted the school aid formula.
Iowa also has landed major economic development projects such as the Google plant in Council Bluffs and fertilizer plants elsewhere in the state.
“There’s just a lot of wonderful activity going on,” he said.
Branstad, 67, is seeking his sixth term. He said 2014 is a year of opportunity for Iowa Republicans.
“This is the best chance we’ve had in 30 years to gain a U.S. Senate seat,” he said, referring to the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
The governor also noted there are open U.S. House seats in southwest and northeast Iowa.
State Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs, believes there will be bipartisan support for some of Branstad’s plans.
She applauded his proposal to freeze tuition at state universities for a second year.
“It sends a message to Iowa families that we get it — that we have reduced the burden of the cost of a college education,” Hanusa said.
She said Iowans also appreciate that the state has gotten its financial house in order.
“Iowans see that we have shown the fiscal responsibility that they have to show with their own finances,” she said.