DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds will make history again Tuesday when she becomes the first female governor to deliver a Condition of the State address to a joint session of the Iowa General Assembly.
The Republican from Osceola said she is excited about the opportunity to talk directly to Iowans in the televised statewide address — and to share her first agenda and budget plan since taking over from Terry Branstad, who stepped down last May to become the U.S. ambassador to China.
While meeting with reporters Monday, Reynolds gave a little flavor of the speech she plans to give.
“It’s more about acknowledging that as a small-town girl from rural Iowa, that if you dream big and work hard that anything can happen, and I think that applies to anybody," Reynolds said. "So that’s my message — to not be afraid to dream big and go out there and challenge yourself. If you do that, I think that big things can happen.”
Reynolds said she has traveled the state but doesn’t feel she has introduced herself to Iowans in a way that traces her background, talks about who she is and her vision for the state, and makes a case for implementing her goals.
“My optimism and enthusiasm for Iowans and for the state hopefully comes through when I’m talking about what I think are some great opportunities and some changes that we can make to help drive that, and that’s exciting,” she said in a recent interview.
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, the first woman in the top House post, said she is impressed with Reynolds’ energy and passion.
“I think she’s done a great job so far and that’s just going to grow. I think we’ve got a great opportunity before us,” Upmeyer said. “I enjoy working with her. I think she is a good listener. She’s open to innovative ideas that people bring to the table. It’s not just her way or the highway.”
Reynolds said her priorities include making the state’s tax code simpler, fairer and more competitive; job training; education to meet the demands of modern employment; and developing the state’s energy plan to continue to maximize renewable energy sources.
Legislative Republicans say much of their focus will be on tax relief and reform and dealing with a current budget shortfall projected at more than $36 million before they begin work on a fiscal 2019 budget.
Reynolds said tax changes should be fiscally responsible and sustainable for the long term, something she would address on Tuesday.
“We have a lot of opportunities moving forward," she said. "I think there’s tremendous optimism with the tax reform that just passed at the federal level. We’re seeing a lot of positive things happen from that.”
Reynolds faces both Republican and Democratic rivals this year, as she seeks election to her first full term.