IA-Gov: Notes on the final Hubbell-Reynolds debate

Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell debated for the third and last time today in Davenport. Too bad not many viewers are likely to tune in at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, because the discussion was yet another study in contrasts. For those who prefer a written recap, I enclose below my detailed notes. Click here and here for Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of the first two Hubbell-Reynolds debates.

As during the second debate, journalists kept the candidates on topic and within the time limit, so kudos to moderator David Nelson of KWQC-TV6 and panelists Erin Murphy of Lee Enterprises, Forrest Saunders of KCRG-TV9, and Jenna Jackson of KWQC-TV6.

Both candidates recycled many talking points from their first two meetings. My impression was that Reynolds performed about equally well in all three debates, while Hubbell improved each time. For instance, after Reynolds noted that Iowa had moved up in mental health rankings three years in a row and was now rated sixth in the country for mental health, Hubbell pointed out that the study the governor cited covered the years 2013 through 2015. That was before the Branstad/Reynolds administration closed some mental health institutions and privatized Medicaid, which has led to worse care for thousands of Iowans.

For those who prefer to watch the replay, KCRG-TV posted the video in a single file, which is the most user-friendly option. You can also find the debate on KWQC-TV (with closed captioning) and WOWT-TV’s websites, but you will have to watch a series of clips, with advertisements before each segment.

Notes on the October 21 debate between Kim Reynolds and Fred Hubbell (paraphrasing the candidates, not a precise transcript):

One-minute opening statement by Reynolds: Thanks hosts and Iowans watching. Fifth generation Iowan, and I chose to live, work and raise my family in a state I love, where if you work hard and dream big anything is possible. My story is the Iowa story, where a small-town girl, daughter of factory worker, farmer, stay at home mom. Someone who waited tables and checked groceries and who never gave up on her dream of getting a college degree is today serving Iowans at the highest level as the first female governor. I understand the challenges that everyday Iowans face, because I faced them myself. That’s why as governor I have led on cutting taxes for working families while maintaining priorities of education, health care, public safety. Working hard to grow jobs and wages and expand opportunities to every corner of the state. It’s why we’re investing in education. US News says we’re number one in the country. I say we’re just getting started.

Hubbell: Thanks governor, hosts, people watching. I’m a fifth-generation, I love our state, and I’m an Iowan running for governor to change direction by putting people first. We can do better for Tucker, an optimistic young man who suffered a tragic accident that could have happened to any of us. We can do better for Tucker and thousands like him who have been harmed by Medicaid privatization. We can do better for the 40,000 Iowans who are working hard but not making ends meet. Let’s work together to put people first. With Gov Reynolds it’s all about more of the same. But for all Iowans it’s time for a change.

Abortion ban

Q from Jackson is about heartbeat bill. Many doctors say a heartbeat is often detectable before a woman knows she is pregnant. Recent Selzer poll shows more than half of citizens say bill goes too far. What do you say to Iowans who feel the bill wrongly deprives women of chance to make educated choice about their health care? Reynolds: There are passionate feelings on both sides of the issue. I am pro-life. I have said as governor I’m never going to stop fighting for unborn. For me, if heart stops beating determines death, then a beating heart determines life. I’m never going to stop fighting for unborn. What’s extreme is Fred’s position, taxpayer dollars going to company that supports late-term abortion, abortion on demand, I don’t believe that’s what Iowans want.

Hubbell rebuttal: I’ve worked most of my life to support access to health care for people across the state. Served on Planned Parenthood board, improving access to low-income people. I served on Mercy Hospital Catholic board to expand access to health care, my wife and I helped expand Broadlawns mental health services. I’ve worked a lot of my life trying to help Iowans get access This governor keeps reducing access to health care with bills like the one you described. We need to do everything possible to give Iowans access to health care.

Reynolds rebuttal: We are expanding access for women and that’s why I signed bill that would bring in Unity Point to provide additional coverage and access [in new state family planning program that excludes Planned Parenthood]. And it’s why I will be sponsoring bill to allow Iowa women to purchase birth control bills from a pharmacist.

Tax cuts

Q from Murphy: would you like to see more tax cuts? Reynolds: as someone who had to work nights and weekends to make ends meet, I’m going to keep fighting. I cut taxes. Fred wants to raise taxes. He wants to raise taxes on hardworking Iowans and small businesses. I don’t think that’s the direction we should go. I will continue to fight for Iowans to keep more of their hard-earned money. We’re seeing the economy grow because of decreasing taxes. We’re seeing wages increase. We have balanced budget, surplus of $127 million and we will continue to fight to give those back to Iowans.

Murphy: is that sustainable given fluctuations in state budget? Reynolds: We’re seeing wages and revenues increasing because of tax cuts. We have balanced budget, $127 million surplus, revenue estimating conference says we will have $100 million more for net year’s budget. We did it by being fiscally responsible, maintaining priorities of education, health care and public safety. That’s same approach we will take next year to help Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money.

Hubbell response: I’ve been very clear: Iowans in middle class, low-income, small businesses are the ones who deserve a tax cut. The governor’s plans put all the money in the hands of big corporations and wealthy Iowans. They don’t need the tax cuts. They already have the lowest tax rates in our state. it’s not fair. We need to fiscally manage our budget properly, get rid of the yo-yo impact of our budgeting, and make sure that middle class and lower incomes get all the benefits from tax breaks.

Murphy to Hubbell: Can you clarify, what tax cut that was passed would you keep and what would you repeal? Hubbell: that was in response to question about tariffs. We have a $2 billion [economic impact] from tariffs. The governor’s first job is to be fiscally responsible. If the tariffs get worse, we need to look at everything. The governor can promise all she wants but we need to be responsible. We need to balance the budget on a predictable basis. We don’t know what’s behind those numbers. I’m going to produce a balanced budget regardless of what’s going on with the tariffs or our economy, and I’m going to favor a middle-class tax cut.

Reynolds: We have reduced taxes, the budget is balanced, $127 million surplus. Fred, when you were CEO of Younkers, the IRS said Younkers owed back taxes with penalty interest. That doesn’t sound like fiscal responsibility to me. I cut taxes, Fred wants to raise taxes, he said it on Iowa Press two days ago. [runs out of time]

Immigration

Saunders Q refers to Reynolds statement about immigration reform after Mollie Tibbetts murder. Comment was chastised for coming across as political. Does she have any regrets about that? Reynolds: I have been consistent about pushing for immigration reform in Washington, DC. They need to do what we have done in Iowa, where two parties come together to put Iowans first and focus on getting things done. Almost every bill I mentioned in my condition of the state passed with bipartisan support [editor’s note: false]. What they need to do in Congress is quit taking their ball and go home, they need to find solutions. This was a tragic death. We don’t want to see any more of that. Any death is tragic. But they are responsible for immigration reform and get something done and reform a system that’s broken.

Follow-up: Do you feel that you injected politics into the grieving process? This isn’t politics, it’s about policy, and I’ve been consistent as lieutenant governor and governor that we need to get immigration reform done, Congress needs to act and find solutions to system that’s broken. It’s outdated, they need to streamline it, look at workforce visas, it’s their responsibility and they need to get it done.

Hubbell: The first statement the governor put out was completely political. That’s exactly what Mollie Tibbetts’ family said. Give us time to grieve. It’s not about immigration, it’s not about politics, it’s about public safety. That’s the issue here. This governor has been cutting public safety budget for the last two years, $11 million. Let’s listen to our public safety officers. We all want secure borders. We all want strong borders. We want Washington to deal with immigration. We want to make sure that illegal immigrants and those with criminal records are not allowed into our state. We need to be a welcoming state. Let’s not politicize crime, let’s talk about public safety. That’s how to keep people safe.

Reynolds demands rebuttal but moderators moved on.

Gun control

Saunders Q to Hubbell: Democrats accused Republicans of politicizing Mollie Tibbetts murder. Can you guarantee that if there is a mass shooting in Iowa you will not immediately call for gun control? Hubbell: I’ve been on a hijacked plane with three terrorists pointing automatic weapons at my face, threatening me and my wife Charlotte. I’ve seen somebody be shot no farther away from me than you are. h I know what that experience is life, I’m very sympathetic to people who go through those tragic experiences. No one should have to I’m a strong supporter of public safety. I’m not going to politicize events, I’m going to call for public safety and fund it at the state level, so we have park rangers in our parks, so people are comfortable and safe in our parks. So we have troopers on our roads at night, rather than the five we have their now. So we have law enforcement investigating and solving crimes all across the state.

Reynolds: First thing he wants to do is raise Iowa’s taxes, which will kill our economy. He wants to raise taxes, he wants to increase onerous regulations, he wants to repeal right to work [editor’snote: false]. I’m proud of what law enforcement have done, we have record investments in public safety. We’re going to continue to crow our economy. We’ll continue to invest in our priorities, and that’s education, health, and public safety.

Send Iowa’s National Guard to the southern border?

Saunders Q is about Trump’s call to close border with Mexico, wants to commit National Guard troops to keep people from Honduras out.

Reynolds: I’d have to look at the situation, we do need to protect our borders. It’s important to support legal immigration, not illegal immigration. Number one duty as governor is to keep Iowans safe. Would depend on what they were asking our resources to be used for, but I would be open to sending National Guard down to the border.

Hubbell: I’m not going to politicize our National Guard by putting them in harm’s way for political reaosns. If there is a real, serious national threat to our borders, of course we’ll send down our National Guard. But not for political reasons. These people do a great job for our state, they shouldn’t have their lives put in harm’s way for politics. We need to support public safety, but we don’t have to raise taxes. The governor can say all day I’m going to raise taxes. What I’m going to do is change the priorities in this state. There’s plenty of money in the state budget. I want to prioritize education, health care, public safety, and our communities, with economic opportunities for our communities. If we stopped the wasteful corporate tax giveaways she’s been giving away for nine years now, that’s a lot of money we could be investing in people of our state. Let’s have secure borders but let’s not put our National Guard in harm’s way for political reasons.

School safety

Jackson Q refers to 12 year old in Eldridge who brought gun to school, pointed at teacher and pulled trigger. Fortunately, the safety was on and no one got hurt. How would you immediately make schools safer? Hubbell: That’s a very important question. as I said earlier, I’ve experienced automatic weapons pointed at me, I’ve experienced somebody getting shot just a few feet away from me. I have a lot of sympathy for these young students. They’re afraid, and that’s not right. We need to focus on public safety, gun safety. I fully support the second amendment. I grew up in a family where we had guns, I went hunting with my father and my brothers. My wife and I have been pheasant hunting. That doesn’t mean you ignore gun safety. We don’t need more guns in our schools. We need a commitment to gun safety. NRA members have told me we need more gun safety. Some people keep their guns locked up. We should consider that Last year governor stopped DHS bill that would have required child care providers to lock guns up when they bring outside people inside their homes. We should require that so kids aren’t exposed to guns. [runs out of time]

Reynolds: As a mother and grandmother and mom of teacher, of course we want children to be safe at school. I am so proud of what we were able to do last year with comprehensive mental health reform. A lot of times that’s at the root of the issue. There’s something causing them to act out. Comprehensive reform that built on what we started in 2013. We provided flexibility for school counselors, mental health advocates, social workers, teenage suicide prevention bill to help identify warning signs, so we can get young people services they need. We will continue to build on that and work with schools to make sure they have a high quality program in place.

Jackson: Has your admin provided enough funding for school safety? There has been funding, we’ve drawn federal grants, we know with mental illness that this is so important. Historic investment in education. We are 4th in the country in K-12 eduction [false]. The flexibility we provided last year allows schools to utilize those resources for mental health counselors and social workers, to help educators identify early warning signs. It has been a priority. I’m proud of what we were able to do last year, teenage suicide prevention and mental health reform bills passed unanimously in legislature.

Q to Hubbell: is school safety funding is where it needs to be? Hubbell: What I’m afraid of is what the governor is talking about with mental health and criminality. It sounds to me like she is stereotyping people with mental health issues as the ones who are committing all these crimes. It’s not true. It’s not fair to the mental health community to be saying that. Yes, we have a public safety issue. If we properly fund our schools, which despite what the governor says, were not doing. Eight years in a row of average 1.3 percent increase in student funding for our schools. Inflation has been 2 1/2 to 3 percent a year during that time. That’s why teachers are asked to do more and more with less resources. Teacher in Oelwein Iowa told us about textbooks, 10-12 years old, they are falling apart, no money for new books in her middle school. We need to properly fund our schools, and if we properly funded our schools, we could have counselors and nurses in every building.

Reynolds: we are continuing to fund our schools. We have not cut education. The last administration to cut education was the one Fred was a part of, alludes to Culver’s 10 percent across the board budget cut [during Great Recession], didn’t fully fund what they promised schools. We are funding education. we’re working hard to grow economy, incomes rise. Economy is growing, we will be able to continue to invest in young people. It is absolutely unconscionable for you to say that when I talk about passing mental health reform, that it’s a reflection on them that they are criminals. That’s unconscionable and it’s ridiculous.

Hubbell: For the last three years in a row, cut funding for Regents schools and community colleges. Three years in a row. Time runs out.

Collective bargaining changes and public pensions

Murphy Q to Reynolds on collective bargaining reform: do you support them, why were they necessary? Teachers say it just made it harder for them to negotiate for their benefits. What those changes did brought taxpayers to the table, gave them a seat at the table. It provides schools across the state the flexibility to manage resources they have so we don’t see another across the board budget cut. They have the option to negotiate just like they did before, if both sides agree. [Editor’s note: false, the Republican bill kept some topics optional but prohibited negotiating over certain topics that used to be part of many contracts.] Some school districts have kept old system, some have rewarded teachers who take on additional responsibility. I have confidence in local administrators to make decisions they need to make. My daughter’s a teacher, and they make a difference. [time runs out]

Q to Hubbell: Let’s go back to the 1970s. Agreement between Bob Ray and bipartisan legislature controlled by Republicans. Teachers and state workers gave up right to strike in exchange for collective bargaining. It was a trade, it’s been that way for 45 years, it worked just fine. We didn’t need to change that. It was purely for political reasons, to reduce the power of labor unions in the state to strengthen the Republican Party. It had nothing to do with being good for our state. They violated an agreement put in place during the 1970s. It’s not fair. The next thing the governor’s going to do is take away IPERS [state pension system] for future teachers. That’s what Republicans have done in other states, and she’s been following that same agenda. First they take away collective bargaining, then take away defined benefit plan. [time runs out]

Reynolds: I hope all Iowans are tuning in, because this gives me an opportunity to address this head on. I am a strong supporter of IPERS. I’ve worked in local government for 19 years, again, my daughter is a teacher. These are promises made, promises kept. We will not take away IPERS. People are making their retirement decisions based on it I want to assure Iowans–you know, when you’ve ran out of ideas and have nothing to offer but raising taxes, you move to scare tactics. [runs out of time]

Murphy follow-up Q to Hubbell: would you try to reverse collective bargaining changes and advocate for changing right to work? Hubbell: We need to work with the legislature to restore Chapter 20 just the way it was before and to restore collective bargaining rights. There was no reason to change those other than purely politics. It makes good sense to restore those rights to hardworking families. By the way, the governor talks about current IPERS people. She has made no promises to protect IPERS for future state employees or teachers. I will do that, because it’s a very well-managed program, one of the best in the country. No need to make hardly any significant changes?

Q: what about right to work? Hubbell: If the legislature gives me a bill that’s good for small businesses and good for our economy, I will sign that bill.

Reynolds: Higher taxes, more regulation, repealing right to work, talk about bringing our economy to a screeching halt. Again, his only option will be to raise taxes. IPERS is about 80 percent funded, one of the best in the country. The way to get it to 100 percent is growing economy, balanced budget, helping Iowans keep more of their money.

Trump’s comments on #MeToo movement

Saunders asks Qs about things Trump has said in recent months. After Kavanaugh hearings, Trump said #metoo movement was dangerous and unfairly threatened a class of powerful men. Do you agree, why or why not? Hubbell: I’m running for governor of Iowa. Not for anything outside Iowa. We need to make sure Iowa is a state with opportunities to make everyone successful, which means we have to have the right priorities. I want to stop wasteful spending and invest in education and health care. There’s plenty of money in our budget, we don’t need to raise taxes. We need to be smarter about how we’re spending our money. Saunders asks him whether he agrees with what Trump said about #MeToo movement. Hubbell: I think the MeToo movement is bringing a lot of good ideas and recognition of challenges we’ve faced in our country that have not been properly addressed. Sexual harassment has been prevalent. Look at our state legislature, it’s a toxic work environment. We need someone who’s going to stop that. She’s been in the legislature and governor’s office for ten years but it’s still a toxic situation. We need every Iowan to be treated with equal respect and dignity. [time runs out]

Reynolds response: Let’s just remember: I cut taxes, he wants to raise taxes. Let’s not forget that, I cut taxes, Fred. I have said when I was sworn in as governor that you can’t legislate morality and treating people with respect but it starts at the top and it starts with changing the culture. I said I have a zero-tolerance policy. I did that. When that was violated, I took action. I’m proud that when little girls come to my office to set them in my chair so they know they have a place and their voice will be heard. Look at my administration, you’ll see strong, bold women leading agencies across Iowa. Saunders follows up, asking if she agrees with Trump’s comment on MeToo movement being dangerous and threatening men. Reynolds: I believe we’ve seen a paradigm shift. I appreciate women who are finding the courage to step up. I believe they should be heard, but I believe both sides should be heard. Encouraging to see women find courage to step up, but also important that we hear both sides of the story.

Trump praise for Republican who assaulted a journalist

Saunders asks about Trump praising a Montana Congressman who assaulted a news reporter. Reynolds: I don’t agree with that. We need to treat people with dignity and respect, I think it starts at the top. I think that’s really important. I can’t be held accountable for what every individual says but I can be held accountable for what I do and how I lead. State workers know what the process is and if they experience discrimination or harassment they know what the process is. I don’t agree with that, I think we need to lead and I can be responsible for myself and I am.

Hubbell says those statements about the news media are very harmful to democracy. We need news media to be an independent arbiter of what’s going on in our country. Those statements are going exactly in the wrong direction. We need to recognize that our governor says she’s not going to do regular weekly news conferences anymore. And I think we need to have that. Have committed to doing those, important to have those. Back to your previous Q: we need a whistleblower process in our state. Every public company in our country has a whistleblower process. Allows people to raise issues outside HR channel, outside of person they report to. It eliminates the intimidation. That’s what we need in state government, just like public companies do.

Reynolds: for all the women out there: I took action. I didn’t hear you take action. Senator [Nate] Boulton is still serving. Look at the clip: I said I will hold weekly press conference. I’m so accessible, everywhere I go around this state. I’m proud of that. She says it came up in the first debate. She commits to holding weekly press conference if elected, “if there’s any ambiguity.”

Hubbell says she didn’t commit to weekly press conferences. Also: I have asked for Nate Boulton to resign. So I have taken steps.

Mental health

Jackson has next Q, about mental health. How much money will Hubbell put into it and how will Hubbell pay for what he is promising? Hubbell says current mental health system is very expensive and ineffective. It’s a crisis growing all over our state. Governor cut budget for DHS, which oversees mental health. We forcing people into county jails and emergency rooms. The most expensive places for them to be. Day after day, costing us money and getting lower quality service. Cites example from Davenport–mental health court. I saw a young man there. He got a job after a year and a half in mental health court. Kept him out of jail. That court, according to [Iowa Supreme Court Chief] Justice Cady, saves our state $300,000 a year. Reynolds keeps cutting funding for the judiciary, so he can hardly keep it open without volunteers. We need more mental health courts. [time runs out]

Follow up: Where’s the money going to come from? Hubbell: if we stop putting people into jails. Linn, Polk, Johnson county jail diversion programs and mobile crisis units are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in their communities. Mental health courts save money. We don’t necessarily need to spend more, we need to be smarter about what we’re doing, focus on prevention.

Reynolds: Proud of mental health reform, we’ve put $2 billion into mental health care. We have 150 Iowans covered for mental health that weren’t covered before. [Editor’s note: she means the 150,000 Iowans who are covered because of the Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans including the Branstad administration opposed. Reynolds has repeatedly called on Congress to repeal the ACA.] Fred thinks system is so broken, but we are working on those programs. Every single legislator voted for that bill. I’m proud of what we were able to do. Also, cites private/public partnership, new facilities that are being built. [time runs out]

Jackson Q to Reynolds: Mental Health America says childhood depression is steadily increasing but there is not sufficient treatment for that. Do you agree? Reynolds says Mental Health America ranks Iowa sixth and we have improved our ranking each of the last three years. We are moving in right direction. I signed executive order to create children’s mental health system. We don’t have one, that’s unconscionable, I’ve created a board. They will report to me in December, I’m excited about that. We’ve got a great foundation, helping young people get treatment.

Hubbell: look behind the statements of the governor. That study she referred to covered years 2013 to 2015. When did we close the mental health institutes? Late 2015. When did we bring in Medicaid privatization and the disaster there? After 2015. We’ve had a sea change in mental health after the study she referred to. In January 73 percent of Iowans said it’s a crisis, and then she cut the budget. I’ve been talking to teachers in central Iowa, they told me mental health and substance abuse issues are going through the roof the last four years. We don’t put adequate funding in our schools for counselors or nurses. We can do a lot of things better. Her bill frankly creates more unfunded mandates for communities. To implement it, her mental health bill, local communities have to either raise their property taxes, or cut teachers and fire police and firefighters. She should be funding it at the state level. [time runs out]

Reynolds response: More scare tactics, more scare tactics, money, money, money. I have no idea, except for raising your taxes, how Fred is going to even come close to paying for the promises he has made. His answer to everything is more government. I’m telling you: Iowa taxpayers cannot afford Fred Hubbell.

Hubbell: Governor, you’re the one pushing tax increases down to the local level. That’s raising taxes on every Iowan.

Reynolds: No, the managed care contracts we just negotiated [with the Medicaid MCOs] take into account the mental health bill. Your running mate voted for it, like every legislator. You keep talking about how insignificant it is, but everyone voted for it and it builds on progress from 2013. You’re talking about stuff and we’ve gotten things done. [moderator cuts her off]

Hubbell: Governor’s bill has a lot of nice words in it, which is why a lot of people voted for it. But there’s no funding, there’s no action, nothing has changed. She’s just pushing costs and ideas down to local communities. They don’t have the money to do these things. The state’s not giving them any money. A good example: we used to have mental health covered by Magellan, and we paid them 7 percent. When the governor privatized Medicaid she took out Magellan, moved mental health into Medicaid system. Now we’re paying 12 to 15 percent to for-profit companies. And service for mental health patients is worse. Reynolds starts to object that program was not sustainable but moderator moves on.

Job creation

Murphy Q on job creation: Iowa’s unemployment level keeps declining, but businesses say they can’t find workers. What policies would you advocate for that would help businesses and Iowans find better paying jobs? Hubbell: that’s a very important question. I’ve made it clear I want to build an economy in our state that supports all Iowans. We don’t have that today. Almost half the students in our state are on free or reduced price lunch. We’re supposed to feed the world and we can’t feed our own kids. Lots of people working hard, having trouble making ends meet. The economy is working for big companies and wealthy individuals, but not for working-class Iowans. We need to change the priorities of state government. Stop throwing wasteful tax giveaways out the window, instead invest in education and job training, invest in health care. We also need quality of life and infrastructure [time runs out]

Murphy to Reynolds: is Hubbell right that low unemployment is masking the fact that many Iowans are underemployed? Reynolds: Well, he talks a lot about everyday Iowans but the first thing he talks about is raising taxes. He said he wouldn’t sign the bill for affordable health care. Everything he wants to do is bad for working Iowans. I don’t care if it’s $200 or $300 or $400 taxes in that paycheck, it matters. We’ve cut taxes and created pro-growth environment. Our economy is growing, wages have increased for last three quarters. Business survey says this is the best economy they have seen in 10 years. Workforce is number one barrier, which is why we’ve done Future Ready Iowa which helps kids see path to great careers and helps adults get skills they need to fill jobs available. [time runs out]

Education funding

Saunders Q on state budget and education: Reynolds touts K-12 education funding increase, but higher education recently endured mid-year cut. Where will money come from for higher education? Reynolds: proud of our investment in education, 4th in the country. Proud of our investment in higher education, we held tuition the same for 2 1/2 years. We have more kids in dual enrollment, taking community college classes in high school. They are more prepared and likely to succeed. We had a couple of tough budget years but we didn’t cut K-12 education. When Fred’s team was in charge they cut funding across the board 10 percent. Time runs out.

Follow-up: do you see future cuts to higher education? Reynolds says no, we have balanced budget and $127 million surplus. I had to make a decision, I don’t get to print money, I didn’t want to raise taxes. We didn’t cut K-12, everyone else had to do their part. It was less than a 2 percent cut for Regents education.

Hubbell: You know, the governor keeps taking about these tax cuts. No Iowan gets a tax cut this year. The middle-class tax cut doesn’t happen until the year 2024, if all the assumptions about the economy come true. No business forecasts five years out anymore. The likelihood of that middle class tax cut will happen in 2024 is no more likely than the cow jumping over the moon. Let’s be honest, let’s stop misleading people. The reality is, we used to be number one in education. Ask Iowans, they know we aren’t number one anymore. We can do that but we need to commit. we need to focus not on high school graduation rates but on 30 percent of kids in third grade don’t meet reading requirement. Half of kids graduating from high school aren’t college ready. Runs out of time.

State budget

Saunders Q to Hubbell: where would your administration cut if you had to? We need to stop wasteful tax giveaway to corporations that don’t need them, in many cases don’t pay taxes in our state. We need to stop giving tax credits to Apple and Microsoft Follow-up: if you eliminate those, you might not have enough money to go around. How do you afford all of the other things in your agenda? I’ve managed complex budgets my whole life in public sector and in private sector. I’ve always delivered on my priorities. You have to look at every single line item. I’ve described several in mental health, Medicaid. We’re wasting money. That’s going to fortify the profits of managed-care companies. A lot of ways we can save money without raising taxes, if we’re smarter. Runs out of time.

Reynolds: Says Hubbell wanted to eliminate some tax credits but kept others for corporations that he personally benefited from. He has been taking tax credits for decades, he handed out millions in tax credits with no strategy. He gave taxpayer dollars to company he was personally invested in. When he was CEO of Younkers, IRS said Younkers owed $7 million in back taxes. Saunders tries to follow up: but if you had to cut, governor… The moderator cuts him off.

Climate change

Next Q is from Jackson about climate change. Reynolds is proud of what we’re doing on renewable energy. We lead in wind, ethanol, biodiesel. I think it’s a factor [referring to climate change], but I think it’s overstated. We are doing our part.

Hubbell goes back to previous question: I knew the governor would throw the kitchen sink at me and she didn’t disappoint. He followed all ethics rules, just like governor did when she took all those free flights. He starts to explain the Younkers thing, that she doesn’t understand how the IRS works. Journalist asks him to answer the question about the study on climate change. Do you agree that the world has 11 years to avoid a climate change disaster? I believe in science. I think that’s what Iowans want to do. Cites scientists’ statement saying we need to adapt to changing weather patterns. It’s happening and 200 scientists in Iowa say it. Let’s believe the science and prepare for it.

I want to go back to those taxes because she’s raised this Younkers issue a couple of times. Audits always state claims. Younkers had a tax reserve like most public companies do. They negotiated with the IRS. The change in reserves was small, was perfectly normal situation.

Prescription drug costs

Last Q: more than 80 percent of Iowa voters are worried about cost of prescription medication. More than a quarter say they have not filled prescription or not taken meds they need because it costs too much. Reynolds: we need to do what we can to lower cost of health care. That’s why I worked with legislature to provide options for Iowans. [referring to bill allowing Farm Bureau and Wellmark to offer health plans that are not really insurance and not compliant with the Affordable Care Act] It was important for working families, farmers, small businesses. Congress needs to act on drug prices but that’s what we can do for Iowans.

Hubbell: As I’ve said before, health care is one of the top priorities. Whether it’s the fetal heartbeat bill, Medicaid privatization, or mental health care, our governor has consistently reduced access to quality, affordable health care across the board. I’ve worked to expand access. The bill she’s talking about, that’s a Farm Bureau/Wellmark plan. It’s not even an insurance product. It doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, doesn’t cover a lot of mental health issues or cancer screenings, and doesn’t cover a lot of things people are not going to know about when they buy the policy. Not going to be protected on rates or claims by the insurance department. She got a very big contribution from Wellmark right after she passed that bill. What’s happening in our state is the same as all across the country on prescription drugs. There’s a middleman between pharmacy and pharmaceutical companies.

Closing statements

Moderator had said there would be no closing statements but they do allow them.

Reynolds closing statement: I’ve been blessed as governor to not only travel Iowa but travel the world and talk about the amazing things happening. That wasn’t always the case. Eight years ago, Iowans were struggling to find work, budget was a mess, education had been cut by governor Fred worked with. Iowa is working. We’ve been recognized as number one state in country. Second-lowest unemployment rate, third best-managed state. Our taxes are going down, our wages are going up. We’re investing like never before in education, job training and health care. I humbly ask for your vote on November 6 to build on the success we’ve seen, to keep economy growing, not to raise taxes and regulations, not to stifle the economy. [time runs out]

Hubbell closing statement: Thanks all for watching tonight. Governor promises more of the same, I promise to bring change. Almost 30 years ago my wife and I faced a life-changing experience. Wife held on plane for six days, he was for 13 days, thinking and praying about what he would do differently if he got a second chance. He wakes up almost every day remembering that event, motivated to make state the best place it can be. Unfortunately, he’s very concerned about direction of state. Governor Reynolds and I have different priorities. We need change. If you love Iowa as much as I do, let’s work together to make state government as good and as decent as our people. I ask for your vote on November 6.

Top image: Screen shot from a video of the October 21 debate between Governor Kim Reynolds and Fred Hubbell.

  • Issue regarding the format

    Watched/listened live .

    Noticed that the format allowed whichever candidate who received the initial question to give a rebuttal, but not the second person. And seems like Kim R was given an inordinate amount of 1st questions. That played in her favor as having the last word. I didn’t do an official count but seemed like she was given at least 60%+ total talking time. Also this allowed her to frame the response to questions that forced Hubble to be defensive about her accusations, or appear weak and off topic. Also noticed how Erin Murphy slobbered over Kim’s outstanding service to Iowa at the beginning of the debate. So much for independent press. 8a on a Sunday time slot? I guess KWQC didn’t loose to much ad revenue. I suspect the total audience was in the low hundreds at best. It was not Fred’s finest hour, so maybe just as well. Considering they were in a debate late the day before in Sioux City, they both looked better than I expected. Kim did sound like a broken record, but Fred speaking again of his assault in his closing statement was not a smart decision.

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