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SELECTED FROM IOWA PUBLIC RADIO


Governor Branstad delivered what will likely be his final Condition of the State Speech at the statehouse Tuesday, outlining plans to improve education, public safety, health care and water quality. But he also unveiled a proposal to cut more than $100 million from this year’s state budget, which hits higher education the hardest. Majority Republicans haven’t ruled out cutting some of the areas the governor would protect.


He urged the legislature to go beyond the status quo.


"This new General Assembly brings new dynamics, new expectations and new opportunities to deliver positive results for Iowans,” Branstad said to applause.


Branstad painted a glowing picture of Iowa employment trends and he touted Iowa’s achievements in alternative energy. For the future, he called for a crackdown on drunk and distracted driving, unveiled a new plan to beef up computer instruction in Iowa schools, and promised a long-term sustainable water quality program.


The governor wants to start with a water quality bill the House passed last year to spend nearly half-a-billion dollars over time. Democrats say that plan raided money from other priorities and lacked accountability. On distracted driving, the governor wants stronger penalties if a driver hits a pedestrian or cyclist while texting. Senate Democrats would be tougher, letting cops pull you over for texting while driving.


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