Iowa Governor Chet Culver told an audience in Decorah on Friday, "We've made some real progress despite some very tough times." Two days after his likely Republican Party opponent, former governor Terry Branstad, spoke in Decorah, Culver drew a crowd of over 80 people to Decorah City Hall.
In his speech, Culver said he is running for re-election because "I want to see this recovery all the way through." Culver defended his "I-Jobs" program, which has drawn criticism from Republicans, saying "I-Jobs is helping us recover from the recession." Culver had spent Friday morning in Elkader, where a $500,000 I-Jobs grant is helping to build a new fire station. "We are rebuilding our entire state infrastructure," said Culver.
Culver said he had not ducked the tough decisions while in office, noting that the state budget expected to be approved by the legislature is smaller in size than the state budget when he became governor. He told the Decorah audience that despite budget restrictions the state has been able to expand early childhood education programs, raise teacher pay, increase renewable energy sources, raise the minimum wage and add 52,000 Iowa kids to the state's health care plan for children.
The members of the audience asked about veterans affairs, school funding, unemployment policies and immigration legislation. Culver sidestepped a question about Branstad's Wednesday criticism of Culver's budget performance, saying "candidates should focus on their goals."