DES MOINES, Iowa --- Gov. Terry Branstad cautioned lawmakers against finding ways to spend the state’s projected budget surplus, while calling Monday for across-the-board tax changes.
Speaking at a Statehouse news conference, Branstad said he’s working on a tax reform proposal to “dramatically” cut personal, corporate and property taxes in the state.
Specifics would be announced later, he said, possibly when he delivers the Condition of the State speech next year.
One looming new cost is a $150 million, 13-point proposal to further professionalize the teaching ranks, including higher starting salaries and new career paths for teachers.
Branstad said what suggestions he’d adopt and how he proposes paying for them likely won’t be announced until he wraps up a series of seven education forums around the state that begin Oct. 22 with a meeting in Manchester and include stops in Sioux City, Clear Lake and ends with a stop in Bettendorf on Dec. 6.
“We’re looking at actually repurposing some of the existing dollars that will focus more on student achievement but also we would look at adding some resources,” Branstad said, adding that education spending makes up about 60 percent of the state budget.
The state ended the 2012 fiscal year with $260 million more revenue than anticipated. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who joined Branstad on Monday, said growth projections through June 2014 are significantly higher than in previous years.
Last week, the three-member Revenue Estimating Conference boosted the growth estimate for fiscal 2013 by $171.4 million over last year’s $6.311 billion total.
The governor also offered his take on the presidential and vice presidential debates. He said the first presidential debate was “a game-changer” for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. He added that Vice President Joe Biden was “rude” to Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
Looking forward to Tuesday’s debate between President Barack Obama and Romney, Branstad said the president has his work cut out for him.
He said the president was good public speaker “when speaking to a favorable audience or with a teleprompter” but “a debate is a different animal.”