Governor-elect Terry Branstad announced three appointments on December 7. He will retain Brigadier General Tim Orr as Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, a post Orr has held since March 2009. Story County Treasurer Dave Jamison, who unsuccessfully ran for state treasurer, will head the Iowa Finance Authority in the Branstad administration. Retired Iowa Army National Guard Brigadier General Jodi Tymeson will lead the state Department of Veterans Affairs. Tymeson retired from the Iowa House this year, having represented district 73 for five terms.
Press releases containing background information on all three appointees are after the jump. None of them should have trouble being confirmed by the Iowa Senate. I noticed the Branstad administration's bio of Tymeson didn't mention her most recent role as co-chair of Bob Vander Plaats' gubernatorial campaign.
Branstad has asked all state department heads to send him their resignations by December 15. He will replace most, if not all, of Governor Chet Culver's appointees.
Branstad named three new staffers today. His liaison to the Iowa House and Senate will be Todd Schulz, who has handled government relations for Newton-based Iowa Telecom. The governor's executive scheduler will be Alicia Freed, a former staffer for Senator Chuck Grassley who most recently worked as project manager for RuffaloCODY LLC in Cedar Rapids. Jimmy Centers, who was northeast Iowa field coordinator for Branstad's gubernatorial campaign, will be deputy communications director. I wouldn't be surprised if Centers got a promotion before too long, because Branstad's communications director Tim Albrecht may go work for one of the Republican presidential campaigns in 2011.
Meanwhile, Branstad spoke about his property tax plans while addressing the Iowa Taxpayers Association's annual meeting in West Des Moines today.
In proposing to cut commercial property tax rates by 35 percent to 40 percent for new businesses and phase down rates for existing businesses in a like manner over four or five years, Branstad said part of the lost revenues for local entities could be offset by increased business activity that would generate new property tax receipts. He also suggested that cities and counties should be less aggressive in offering tax increment financing and abatements that create disparities among new and existing businesses.
The price tag for lowering the commercial property tax burden would depend on the growth the proposed relief could generate, he said. Branstad said his plan would be to provide state funding to hold local governments "harmless" but not give them a windfall in the process - similar to when the state phased out the property tax on machinery and equipment in the 1990s when he previously served as governor.
"We want to make this adjustment in a fair way," Branstad said, conceding that the cost could be as much as $500 million over four years.
The Iowa Taxpayers Association supports Branstad's property tax plans, but Republican legislative leaders have warned getting the proposal through the legislature will be difficult. Yesterday Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal described the phase-out of the property tax on machinery and equipment as "pretty close to the biggest unfunded mandate in the history of the state." The executive directors of the National League of Cities and the Iowa League of Cities both expressed concern about Branstad's proposal:
No other state in the nation is considering similar cuts to commercial property taxes, said Donald Borut, executive director of the National League of Cities, a national advocate for municipalities. Resulting cuts to key city services such as police protection and road improvements ultimately could push businesses away, he said.
"The objective" to lower commercial property tax "is a laudable one, but the cost to municipalities could be draconian," Borut said. "If there is some way to guarantee in blood that the municipalities would be held harmless, it's one thing, but I don't know how one can do that. Even with the best intentions, the pressures would be enormous."
UPDATE: James Q. Lynch has more on local government officials worrying about Branstad's property tax proposals. In that piece, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett raises some good points:
Cedar Rapids is more dependent on property taxes than many communities, Corbett said. It has no gaming revenue and it local option sales tax is dedicated to flood recovery.
On a personal level, he'd like to see property tax relief targeted to benefit local businesses.
"Is there some different classification within commercial property tax base so you're not giving Wal-mart a tax break at the same level as small business" he said.
Governor-elect Branstad's press release of December 7:
Gov.-elect Terry Branstad announced today that he will retain Brigadier General Tim Orr as Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard.
Orr has been serving in this capacity since Mar. 26, 2009.
"General Orr has served the Iowa National Guard as an outstanding leader for our state," said Gov.-elect Branstad. "I have met with General Orr, and came away extremely impressed, and believe his leadership is a tremendous asset to all Iowa National Guard members, their families, and to Iowa as a whole. I am excited he has agreed to continue in this capacity."
Born in Winterset and raised in Earlham and Boone, Gen. Orr began his military career in December of 1978, when he enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard. He has commanded at the company, battalion and brigade level, as well as serving as Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard, from Oct. 2004 to Sept. 2007. He served as Chief of Staff of the Iowa Army National Guard from Oct. 2007 to December 2008.
"Because of General Orr's personal deployment experience, he understands the commitment of our Iowa National Guard troops and their families are making," said Branstad. "One of the reasons I chose to retain him is this understanding during Iowa's largest National Guard deployment since World War II."
Orr has an Associate of Arts in business from Des Moines Area Community College, is a 1983 graduate of Drake University, with a B.S. in business and education, earned a Master of Art in education and community college certification from Iowa State University in 1991, and earned a Master's of Science in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College in 2003.
Press release of December 7:
(URBANDALE) - Gov.-Elect Terry Branstad today announced that David Jamison will head the Iowa Finance Authority in the Branstad/Reynolds administration.
"David will help our administration restore Iowa's sound fiscal footing," said Branstad. "I am excited that he has agreed to serve the taxpayers of Iowa in this capacity, and know that his work will greatly benefit our state."
The Iowa Finance Authority was formed in 1975 to provide housing lending for people with less means. The department also offers title guarantees, ensures the integrity of land title transfers, administers HUD Section 8 housing, and provides water quality funding.
Jamison is a United States Marine Corps veteran, serving on active duty from July 1975-Nov. 1980. Since then, he has served as Story County Income Maintenance Data Coordinator in Nevada, Iowa, going on to serve as Story County Treasurer from 1995-Dec. 2010. Jamison was the Republican candidate for Iowa Treasurer in 2010.
"This is a great honor, and I will work very hard on behalf of Iowa's taxpayers," said Jamison. "I will assist Governor Branstad as we make government more honest, transparent and accountable to its citizens. I believe that with my background as county treasurer, the Iowa Finance Authority will be a great opportunity to serve this administration."
Jamison is a graduate of Iowa State University, with a degree in Business Administration, Management. He serves in a number of local and statewide civic organizations. He lives in Ames with his wife, Karen, and their three children.
Branstad press release of December 7:
(URBANDALE) - Gov.-Elect Terry Branstad today announced that retired Brig. Gen. Jodi Tymeson will serve in the Branstad/Reynolds administration as head of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tymeson, served in the Iowa Army National Guard from 1974-2007. While there, she graduated from officer candidate school and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1982. She served as platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander and troop command commander - responsible for 3,450 soldiers.
She was selected to attend the Army War College as a national security fellow at Harvard University's JFK School of Government, graduating in 1999. She is the first female promoted to brigadier general in the Iowa Army National Guard. She retired in 2007 with 33 years of service.
Tymeson's husband, John, is a retired brigadier general, following his 34 years of military service. He is a Vietnam veteran, and currently serves as chair of the board of directors at the Food Bank of Iowa.
"Our National Guard troops are at their highest deployment since World War II, and Jodi has the knowledge and experience to understand their needs here at home," said Gov.-elect Terry Branstad. "Jodi is an outstanding leader, and I am pleased she will be serving in this extremely important role within my administration."
Tymeson also served as a full-time 6th grade teacher at Cedar Heights Elementary in Cedar Falls from 1988-1992, and taught as a substitute teacher from 1993-1998.
From 2001-2010, Tymeson served nearly 30,000 constituents as a state representative for Madison, Warren and Dallas Counties. She served as House Education Committee chair for four years, in addition to a number of other committee assignments.
"I'd like to thank Governor Branstad for this opportunity to serve veterans and their families, and I'd like to thank Patrick Palmersheim for his dedicated service over the years," said Tymeson. "I look forward to working with the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs, the team at the Department, the county directors, and all the veteran organizations and advocates throughout the state. There is a strong network of people in Iowa working to support veterans and their families, and I look forward to working as part of that team. Iowans appreciate the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families, and we will do our best to serve them."
Tymeson grew up in Boone County, and currently resides in Winterset with her husband, John.