Final Culver condition of the state thread

Governor Chet Culver addresses Iowa legislators for the last time this morning. Iowa Public Television will carry the speech, and I’ll liveblog after the jump. Meanwhile, use this thread for any comments about Culver’s record and legacy. I expect Culver will highlight efforts to increase renewable energy production and give more children access to health care and preschool, while leaving the state in better fiscal condition than most of the country.

I see Governor-elect Terry Branstad declined Culver’s invitation to attend today’s speech, and Culver won’t attend inaugural events on Friday.

UPDATE: The speech is now over, and my liveblog is after the jump. The biggest surprise for me came toward the end: Culver alluded to a report prompted by last summer’s massive egg recall, recommending five changes in Iowa law to address food safety issues. I’ll write a separate post later with more details on those proposed changes.

SECOND UPDATE: Here is the full text of Culver’s speech, as delivered.

10:03 Culver running a bit behind schedule, IPTV’s Dean Borg talking about long standing ovation members of Iowa Supreme Court, Court of Appeals received this morning in the chambers. Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge being escorted in.

10:05 Culver and family escorted into chamber.

10:06 Senate President Jack Kibbie introducing the governor. Culver faced four years of economic stress, and his work to pay for teachers, preschool for children, health care, alternative energy helped this state; our job this session will be easier than in other states, thanks governor for his service.

10:07 Culver begins to speak, thanks legislative leaders, statewide officials, judges, Representatives Braley and Loebsack who are in attendance. Congratulates elected legislators, Branstad/Reynolds, wishes them Godspeed.

10:08 Thanks members of Board of Regents, university presidents, credits outstanding state universities, also community and private colleges. Acknowledges National Guard leadership, thanks men and women who wear uniform. (prolonged applause)

10:10 We’re now in midst of largest overseas deployment of guard troops since WWII. 3,100 of Iowa Natl Guard in Afghanistan; 77 Iowans gave ultimate sacrifice during last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

10:11 Proud that last year Iowa became first state in America to pass all top 10 DoD priority laws to help military service members and veterans. Appreciated time spent with Iowa Natl Guard troops. Mentions Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta. (prolonged applause)

10:12 We’ve kept our promise to brave men & women in uniform, our state is stronger for it. I stand before you for last time to update you about condition of our state. Broad range of emotions. Confident that our administration has left the state in a better position than we found it. In fact, last fall Iowa was acknowledged in natl publication as third best-run state in the nation.

10:13 So I’m happy to report that the condition of our state is strong today, and we are well positioned for growth, greatness and prosperity tomorrow. This especially true when it comes to renewable energy, our children, jobs. Today Iowa is number 1 in nation in renewable energy–generate 21% of our power from renewable sources, up from 5% four years ago.

10:14 40 wind farms built in last four years; all major component parts of windmill manufactured in Iowa. Thousands employed in wind energy supply chain.

10:15 More than 4,700 windmills across state, enough to power 1 million homes. Grid upgrades being built. We have accomplished our goal of becoming renewable energy capital of U.S. Iowa Power Fund is a tool used to accomplish this goal, and has helped us become the Silicon Prairie of midwest; mentions 40 renewable energy development projects. Will help Iowa secure economic future. Thanks Power Fund board members and Roya Stanley of Office of Energy Independence for “visionary work.”

10:16 We’ve helped increase production of biofuels statewide, increased tax credits for ethanol and biodiesel. We successfully pushed for E15 waiver from Environmental Protection Agency, which will allow Iowa to produce millions more gallons of ethanol annually.

10:17 Great progress in investing in children. Number 1 in nation in children’s health insurance. No state has done more in last 4 years. We’ve added 58,000 kids to rolls, and as result, 99% of Iowa children are getting basic health care services.

10:18 Leading nation in expanding access to preschool. 23K additional children enrolled in early childhood programs in past three years. 90% of 4-year-olds have opportunity to attend quality preschool program, up from 5% a few years ago.

10:19 green-collar jobs, info technology jobs; wind energy firms, Google, Microsoft, IBM have created new IT jobs in past three years

10:20 Thanks economic development team and board of directors, worked with 280 businesses to create and retain Iowa jobs. Progress in coordinating needs of employers with skills of workers. Community college enrollment at all-time high; cmty college and worker retraining programs have helped more than 100K Iowans find a job. Job creation and workforce development efforts paying big dividends. Unemployment at 6.6%, 1/3 below national average, seventh lowest in nation.

10:21 We’ve regained more than 1/3 of jobs lost during recession, set to reach pre-recession employment levels by third quarter of 2012.

10:22 Only state in the nation to post 14 consecutive months of sustained economic growth.

10:23 These positive signs and $950 surplus clearly show the strength of Iowa economy.

Challenging times in past four years, together we’ve faced natural disasters, floods, tornadoes. Refers to images from Cedar Rapids, New Hartford, Coralville, Oakville, etc. Never been more proud of Iowa. We’ve come together to build foundation for better, stronger, more resilient state, on its way to full and complete recovery.

10:24 We stood together committed to rebuilding state from worst natural disaster ever. Together we’ve helped ease the pain. We’ve secured more than $5 billion in state and federal funds for recovery, rebuilding and flood mitigation. I want to thank our Congressional delegation, Harkin and Grassley, House members for helping us secure $4.3 billion in federal funds.

10:25 We’ve secured a billion dollars in funding for Linn County alone. Thanks Lt Gen Ron Dardis and Rebuild Iowa Office for tireless efforts on flood recovery.

10:26 Rebuilding Iowa in stronger, safer, more sustainable way. I-JOBS initiative has allowed us to provide $330 million for nearly 100 separate flood-related projects in 37 different projects: new fire stations in Elkader and Charles City, public library in Cedar Rapids, U of Iowa campus buildings, flood wall protecting small businesses in Coralville.

10:27 Proud of record, grateful for opportunity to serve as 40th governor of Iowa, thanks Iowans for giving him opportunity to serve.

10:28 Looking back, one of the things I’m most proud of is that we kept the promises we made to Iowans. We raised minimum wage, increased teacher pay, made public places smoke-free, lifted ban on stem-cell research, invested $100 million to improve water quality, protected civil rights at home, in workplace, and for students in schools; balanced budget four years in row and earned AAA bond rating. In addition, we tackled racial disparity in sentencing and youth detention; appointed record numbers of women and minorities; protected civil rights of all Iowans regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation (huge applause from gallery, filled with many One Iowa supporters; One Iowa just received award from Lt Gov Judge this morning and scheduled a lobby day for today).

10:30 Finally, we reduced state spending, reformed and reorganized government, streamlined operations, offered early retirement to state employees, reduced vehicle fleet, eliminated redundant e-mail and information technology.

10:31 refers to record surplus and smaller, smarter government that Iowa taxpayers deserve

Long list of people to thank: wife Mari, entire family, including parents, siblings, other relatives.

10:32 Proud of Mari’s advocacy for at-risk women and children; recently recognized as 2010 advocate of the year by Children and Family Services of Iowa.

10:33 Mari’s been great first lady, incredible mother, asks legislators to welcome his wife and children John and Claire to chamber

10:34 Thanks Iowa’s Lt Gov Patty Judge; best partner a governor could ever have; important adviser on matters big and small, excellent oversight executive for homeland security and emergency management agencies; state of Iowa better place b/c of Patty Judge’s 20 years of public service: state senator, secretary of agriculture, lt governor. Please join me in thanking her.

10:35 Thanks chief of staff Jim Larew, other members of staff and state agency directors; worked hard every day to move state forward.

10:36 Been blessed each day with opportunity to work with great team in governor’s and lt gov’s office and thousands of state employees: state troopers, snow plow drivers, correction officers, nurses at of U of I hospitals, cafeteria staff who’ll serve many of us lunch today, custodians who come in every night to keep this capitol building one of the most beautiful in nation. To every member of state government team, thank you for professionalism.

10:37 Thanks all members of state legislature on both sides of aisle for helping make Iowa a better place.

Our work is never done. Department of Management releasing report on state reorganization efforts this week: more steps can be taken to improve efficiency in state purchasing, etc. I encourage you [legislators] to implement recommendations of this report.

We’ve provided legislature with detailed summary concerning egg recall of last summer. Five recommended changes in Iowa law to improve food safety.

10:40 Talks about how vision to improve state is not partisan vision, talks about working together to improve quality of life. May God bless you and state of Iowa.

Speech ends at 10:41.

10:45 Dean Borg notes that Culver is emotionally moved by standing ovation he’s getting in chamber. Wiped “characteristic perspiration from his brow and a tear from his eye.” Culver said thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal after speech.

Linda Upmeyer interviewed on Iowa Public TV; doesn’t acknowledge condition of state is strong, says Culver was describing the way he saw it. Not surprised by long standing ovation for Iowa Supreme Court before Culver’s speech, suggests that was because of more liberal people who came to gallery, also says she’s surprised by “hooting and hollering” from gallery, goes against decorum of chamber.

  • Watched video on Des Moines Register

    There were some scandals in the Culver Administration, but all and all I think he did a great job and I hope he appears on the ballot again one day.  

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