DES MOINES — Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will make history again today when she becomes the first female governor to deliver a Condition of the State address to a joint session of the Iowa General Assembly.
Reynolds said she is excited to talk directly to Iowans in a statewide televised address — to share her vision for the state as she presents her first agenda since taking over from Terry Branstad, who stepped down in May to become U.S. ambassador to China.
Reynolds sidestepped questions about her speech Monday, but hinted at its tone.
“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,” the governor said.
Reynolds has traveled the state extensively but doesn’t feel she really has introduced herself to Iowans, shared her vision or made the case for 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 recently.
Reynolds will seek her first full term this year, and faces both Republican and Democratic rivals.
A former county treasurer, state senator and lieutenant governor from Osceola, she had a dry run of sorts for today’s address when she delivered her inaugural remarks in May. She also has made appearances in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
“I think I’m approachable, I think I’m accessible and I want to make sure that Iowans know that so that they feel comfortable with me,” said Reynolds. “That’s one of the reasons that we’re out in the state a lot — so that Iowans can come up and share good things or bad things, and it’s really helpful.”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, also a trailblazer as the first female in that post, said she is impressed with Reynolds’ energy and passion.
“I think she’s going to be a great leader. 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,” said Upmeyer.
Reynolds has indicated her priorities for the upcoming legislative session include tax cuts and reform, job training and education, and maximizing renewable energy sources.
Legislative Republicans say much of their focus will be on tax cuts and dealing with a current budget shortfall projected at more than $36 million before formulating a fiscal 2019 budget.
Reynolds, who indicated she would spell out some guidelines on how Iowa should modernize its tax code when she speaks today, said changes should be fiscally responsible and sustainable.
“The condition of the state is strong,” the governor said. “We have a lot of opportunities moving forward. 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.”