Fairfield welcomes Branstad, Reynolds
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds visited the Fairfield Public Library today for a townhall meeting.
Branstad and Reynolds spoke for about 30 minutes on subjects such as economic growth, Branstad’s recent trip to China, property tax relief, education reform and several other issues. After their initial remarks, the audience had a chance to ask questions for about another 30 minutes.
Approximately 40 people attended the event, some of whom expressed support for the governor’s proposals and some of whom expressed their opposition.
Audience member Alitza Blough said she was worried about the large number of Iowa counties that have lost population. She said 58 of the 99 counties lost residents from 2000 to 2010.
Blough said she was upset with the money the state has given to corporations in recent years. She said those companies have been unable to prove how many jobs were created with that money.
“When I hear your motto, ‘Iowa is open for business,’ it means something different to me,” she said. “I see your idea of Iowa as involving a lot of subsidies and funny-money giveaways to well-heeled mega-corporations and I don’t see that changing the population trends.”
Blough talked about what she saw as inefficiencies in the Iowa economy such as growing corn for ethanol and livestock fed. She also talked about the need to make Iowa’s farms self-sufficient by moving away from subsidies.
Branstad responded by saying the government is not simply giving away money to corporations but is rather reducing their future taxes, which he said the state would never receive if the business located elsewhere.
“I also want to defend the production of corn,” he said. “We are the leading corn producing state. Corn goes into a lot of things. If you go to the plant in Eddyville, you’ll see hundreds of food products made from the byproducts of ethanol. I think it’s a positive thing for Iowa.”
The governor took issue with Blough’s recommendations.
“I do not agree we can all go back to subsistence farming and live like they did 200 years ago,” he said.
Blough said that was not what she was advocating.
Audience member Carole Simmons asked what the governor would do about fertilizer runoff that she said was polluting Iowa’s water. Branstad said farmers are some of the best environmentalists the state has.
“Part of our problem is the federal government,” he said. “We had a flood in Iowa a couple of years ago, and we had all these problem with silt from the Missouri River. Now the Corps of Engineer, because of a certain fish in the river, want us to dump this silt, with nutrients in it, back into the river. That will cause more problems down in the Gulf, and yet farmers will get blamed for it.”
Branstad said the farming methods are much better today than when he was a boy. He said modern farming methods such as no-till prevent soil erosion.
Branstad received a question about state’s rights, and he said it was an issue he was very concerned with. He mentioned the federal Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, is going to hurt Iowa. He said companies such as Farm Bureau might not be able to continue to provide its employees with health insurance.
Patrick Bosold, another audience member, said entitlement programs have been unfairly maligned for driving the deficit, but he said the real culprit was “out of control spending on over 1,000 military bases overseas.”
Bosold added another problem was trade agreements that have “taken millions of jobs out of this country.”
Branstad immediately jumped in and said, “Let me disagree with you. If you look honestly at the federal budget, you’ll see defense spending is going down in relation to entitlement spending. I’m one of the 10 governors on the governors’ advisory group and we’re seeing defense cut dramatically. The number of people in the military is going down and it’s impacting our National Guard as well.”
Branstad said Obamacare would add trillions of dollars to the deficit.
Bosold responded by saying, “I can fix those problems with a simple solution and it’s called everybody pays their fair share of taxes. Do you know how many billions of dollars are not taxed at all because corporations offshore the money? It’s not entitlement programs that are creating that problem, it’s people who aren’t paying their taxes.”
Branstad said during his previous tenure as governor, the Canadian government had higher corporate taxes than Iowa.
He said a number of Canadian automotive companies relocated to Iowa because it had lower corporate taxes.
However, since then, he said Canada has cut its corporate tax to 15 percent.
“As long as we have these very high taxes and penalties to bring money back, you’re going to continue to have large companies keep their money off shore,” he said.