Iowa governor candidates discuss school safety, healthcare and more with TV6

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Iowa (KWQC) - TV6 sat down incumbent Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell ahead of the Iowa Gubernatorial Debate in Davenport.

Ahead of Sunday's debate, KWQC's Chris Carter and Jenna Jackson got to sit down with both of the candidates to address multiple hot topics in the state and nationally.

Below are the interviews with both Governor Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell.

Governor Kim Reynolds:
PART ONE

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Iowa right now?

A: "Well, right now I'm really proud of the momentum and success we've seen in Iowa. I think we have a great story to tell, we have a lot of positive momentum taking place but you know, I'm quick to say there's also a lot to do and probably without fail, our biggest barrier to economic growth to the state is people. So when I hear that I hear jobs and opportunities for Iowans to help get the skills that they need to fill one of the 66,000 jobs and up jobs that are available all across our state. So, the economy is growing, we're seeing wages growing and when I talk to business and industry and ask, they say almost without fail that business has never been better, they're optimistic about growth, significant growth, they just need people, and that's why Future Ready Iowa is what we were able to pass unanimously last year in the Legislature. Every single legislator voted for that and that really is about providing Iowans the skills to fill the jobs and to have a great career and to have that career right here in the state of Iowa. Also, making sure that our young people know that the great opportunities that exist."

Q: What exactly is your tax plan, include numbers and how much that would yield for the Iowans?

A: "Well we were able to pass the largest tax cut in Iowa history last legislative session and really it was about simplifying the taxes and helping Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money and we did it by being fiscally responsible so that we were able to reduce taxes and really build off the federal tax cut that they passed in December while maintaining our priorities of education, health care and public safety. I understand that every dollar in that paycheck matters. When Kevin and I were raising our three daughters, Kevin worked days and I worked nights and weekends in order to make ends meet and so to say that those extra dollars in the paycheck don't matter is just ridiculous. That's groceries, that's gas money, that's necessities and I'm going to continue fighting every day to help Iowans and businesses keep more of their hard-earned money so I'm really proud that we passed that largest tax in the history of our state."

Q: Talking about school safety, recently in Eldridge, Iowa we had a student bring a gun into a classroom and pull it out. Safety is parent's biggest concern right now so how are you going to ensure parents that they're kids are safe this school year?

A: "Well, as a mom and as a grandmother of nine, soon to be ten grandchildren and mom of a teacher, I want to make sure that when families are dropping their children off at school they have the expectation and they'll be safe and secure and they can learn, have a great education and so that's really important. So we passed legislation last year. First of all, we need to look at it from a holistic approach. So there's not one single answer and I think people need to really look at it from that perspective. We need to make sure that the systems in place are accurate, up-to-date, and working and that we're communicating. We passed legislation last year that will help school districts put in place a school safety plan and it has to be a high quality school safety plan. We also passed a bill last year that helps educators get the tools that they need to identify some early mental health signs, again, so that we can get our young people the help and the services that they need so they can have a healthy, happy life and every opportunity to learn. So we're going to continue to look for opportunities. We gave some flexibility in school funding so that they can bring on social workers and more school counselors and then I signed an executive order that will create a children's mental health system and I think that's really important as well."

PART TWO

Q: The #MeToo Movement has swept across our nation and there's been talk of the #MeToo movement in Iowa's Legislature. How as Governor would you make sure that women are safe and they feel that they are safe in the workplace?

A: "Well, I said in my Condition of the State unfortunately you can't legislate morality or legislate people treating other people with respect but you can lead and it starts at the top and it starts by setting the expectations and I did that. I said that we have a zero tolerance policy, made sure that all the state employees understood what the policy entails. So we did the re-training on that. They knew where to go if they experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or just any type of bad behavior in government; this should apply across the board but this is what I have control of, and they know the process and when somebody violated the zero tolerance policy that I have in place, I acted so that they know that they will be heard and that action will be taken."

Q: Does our health care system right now in Iowa need to change or stay the same and why?

A: "Well when we talk about growing our economy and especially small businesses and hard-working families and farmers, what had happened with the ACA, the Obamacare has collapsed, it's unsustainable, and if you didn't qualify for the subsidies you couldn't afford a 57% increase in premiums and so I'm so proud of the fact that we were able to pass, in a bi-partisan manner, affordable health care plans for Iowans who didn't qualify for the subsidies and we'll be releasing those details in September and I'm anxious for Iowans to have the opportunity, especially small businesses to be able to find and have an affordable health care plan. I mean, they were borrowing money, they were going without, or we have individuals who were paying more for health care than they were paying for their mortgage and that's not right. Prior to Obamacare, we had the lowest premiums, the most participation, and we had nine individual health care insurers in the individual health care market. So, D.C. still needs to get something done, but in the interim we were able to take action and help Iowans have an option."

Q: Farmers have been speaking to us about the current tariff war that's going on that's hurting their job and so how are you going to help our farmers?

A: "I have been advocating for Iowa farmers for the first day that I was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor and I spend a lot of time talking to farmers, we've held farmer round tables all across the state. We just spent ten days at the Iowa State Fair. So two things are equally true when it comes to trade wars and that is nobody wins in a trade war. But equally true is that China has been sticking it to us for years and our farmers understand that. They actually stole seeds out of the ground in Iowa to reverse engineer and to get that technology and they need to be held accountable. It shouldn't be done of the backs of our farmers and while our farmers want access to markets, I do appreciate the administration putting in place a financial package to mitigate some of the losses in the interim. So, they do appreciate that but the bottom line is they want access to markets, not aid and so we're encouraged that it looks like they may be getting something done with Mexico and I look forward to seeing the details and hopefully we hope Canada will come on board and then we'll get that done and then they're working with the EU and then we can collectively focus on getting something done with China."

PART THREE

Q: Speaking about immigration, of course the Mollie Tibbetts' tragedy has caused a little bit of an immigration issue in Iowa some nasty things being said. You recently came out and said the phone calls that are going on are repulsive but at the same time something needs to be done with immigration and so talk to me a little bit about that.

A: "As a mom of three daughters and a grandmother, I can't imagine getting the horrible news that my daughter had been murdered. I can't even imagine that. And was really a tough phone call to talk to Mollie's mom and there's just no words you can even express except for Iowans are keeping them in our thoughts and in our prayers. But as a Governor, I need to make sure that I'm doing everything I can to keep Iowans safe and so I've said this isn't about politics, it's about policy and we have an immigration system that's broken and we've been talking about it for 30 years across administrations and it's just time that Washington D.C. gets something done. They need to put aside their political differences and come to the table and find some solutions to a system that's broken and I'm going to continue to really hold them accountable and ask them to do that."

Q: What's your biggest accomplishment as Governor so far?

A: "Well I think I'm excited that we're the number one state in the country, and while that's a reflection and representation of our people and our work ethic and our values and on Iowans making a difference all around and across this state, but it's about creating an environment where they feel confident in the state government. That they feel confident investing, expanding, and growing their business and so I want to continue to unleash opportunities all across the state. I say that my story is the Iowa story where a small town girl from rural Iowa can one day serve Iowans at the highest capacity as the first female Governor in the state of Iowa and those are the stories that I want to see just unleashed all across the state. So I'm really positive, I'm really proud of the positive direction and positive accomplishments we see happening but I'm even more excited to build on the momentum, to continue to build on the success that we've seen over the last couple years."

Q: And what's something in your term as Governor so far you think [I] could've done better at or maybe a regret?

A: "Well it's not a regret but I said in my first Condition of the State, you know when we look at managed care, we're two years into managed care and it's the direction that we need to go the previous, the fee for service was not sustainable and so I said we need to do something different and I really have taken significant steps in the last year to put new leadership in place and to bring in a new, an actuary to really help the individual or the company that's put in place to set the rates. They have no confidence in the previous one and we've put some additional funding into the system based on actual experience and not projections and because we now have two years of history, we have a better idea of what it takes to really provide services to vulnerable Iowans and you know it's about sustainability for me and that's what I'm focused on because I want to be able to look a parent in the eye and make sure that I can tell them that their loved one is going to receive the services that they need even after they're gone."

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Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell:

Q: I appreciate you taking the time to do this with us. My first question to you, and I know you can go about a number of topics, but I want you to do narrow it down to one. What is the single biggest issue facing the state of Iowa right now?

A: I think the biggest thing in our state right now is the accessibility and the affordability of healthcare. It is just deteriorating across all of our state, particularly in rural Iowa. People can't get the healthcare they need and they are having to pay way too much.

Q: How do you fix that?

A: We need to stop the privatization of Medicaid, bring it back under state control. We need to finally put some leadership and funding into the mental health crisis, substance abuse crisis in our state, we need to restore the funding to Planned Parenthood and we need to fix our water quality issues in our state. Those are healthcare issues.

Q: Where do you stand on the issue of legalizing marijuana?

A: I think the legalization of marijuana needs to be expanded so that more kinds of THC, more levels of THC that can be used as well as more diseases that it can be applied to. We need to broaden that out.

Q: Let's talk about taxes. What exactly is your tax plan, including the numbers and how much will it yield for Iowa?

A: First off, we have a very complex and difficult tax system, both individual and corporate. We have over 30 different credits, deductions, and exemptions on the individual and business side. So the people and the businesses who have the best lobbyists and the best accountants are the ones who get the best credits and deductions so it is painfully unfair to the people and businesses in our state. We need to take a comprehensive look at every single exception, credit, deduction in our tax code for businesses and individual and where they are not creating value for our state, we should stop them. Where they are we should continue. We should try and reduce the number of credits, exemptions, and deductions so we can lower rates for everyone.

Q: The #MeToo Movement has swept the nation. We saw some incidents in the Iowa Legislature recently. What are you going to do, if elected Governor, to make the state more inclusive of women and to protect women in the workplace?

A: First of all, we need to recognize and provide leadership to the idea that everybody, especially women, deserves full safety and protection, dignity, and respect that they deserve across our state, in the homes, at work, in the community regardless. Specifically for state government, we need to put in a whistleblower system. All public companies already have this. They've had this for years and years. So that means if anyone sees an issue about what is going on in their state job or hear about it or they want to reach out, we can make that available to people. There is a system outside of the chain of command outside of human resources. It is anonymous where you can report that and people will pick it up and respond to that very quickly. That is the kind of system that exists. It is a very easy model to put in place. We should put that in place for state government so that these things get the light of day and get treated quickly.

Q: We have seen a lot of issues in the news about school safety. We just had an incident two weeks ago. A student was able to get a gun into the classroom and pull that gun on the teacher and pull the trigger. Luckily, the safety was on which prevented it from going off, but we had the incident in Dixon, Illinois, which I know isn't your area, but how do we protect our students, what do you plan to do ensure parents their kids are safe in school, what do you think we need to change about our school safety plan so when we send our kids to school, they are safe?

A: Well, I think gun safety is a topic and a discussion we need to talk about in our state. We need to address issues of safety. There are too many people who are getting hurt or killed because of lack of gun safety and we're not talking about taking away guns. We're not talking about any of that. We're talking just about the safety around those guns that are already out there, the examples that you gave. We need to be looking at the issues where we should require everyone who has a gun to keep it locked up and keep the ammunition separate from the gun so it is not easy for a young child to get it and take it to school. We need to be looking at not putting more guns in schools but putting more protections around schools. If we focus on the safety side of these things we can address a lot of issues on a bipartisan basis that everybody will want to address.

Q: How do you ensure parents that their children are safe going to school when they don't have these things in place?

A: Well, today we can't assure that their kids are safe on the streets of our communities, or in their homes, or in another person's home or in a childcare provider's home because they are not gun safety requirements there. We need to address gun safety in all elements of our life and society and make sure that we are requiring proper gun safety. That is just part of public safety. Our current Governor has just reduced funding for public safety all across our state, law enforcement, firefighters, emergency preparedness, response people. We need to invest in public safety. We need to provide more public safety, which includes more gun safety.

Q: Let's talk about healthcare. Do you think the health care system in Iowa needs to change? How so and what is your plan?

A: I want to stop the privatization of Medicaid on day one and bring in a new system. I've had Medicaid roundtables all across this state, just like this one here today and you hear that every place you go. Medicaid privatization is a failure. We are not treating people properly and we are not treating the providers effectively. That needs to stop on day one. We need to put leadership and funding behind our mental health and substance abuse crisis. We are not doing anything. We are passing laws that have nice words and no funding. It won't change without funding. We need to step up and restore funding to Planned Parenthood. 15,000 people in our state were told they couldn't go to their doctor anymore because we took away the funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides wonderful cancer screening, a lot of testing for infectious diseases, a lot of sexual and reproductive health care education. These things are very important to Iowans and we need to restore that funding so that those people who benefited from those services can have that again.

Q: How do you plan to grown Iowas economy and retain and bring new people into this state?

A: Yea, that is a very important question in our state because our state is not growing. We have about three million people and we used to have 10 Congressional Representatives and now we have four, going towards three because every other state is growing and we are not. Why? Because we are not investing in our people, we are not investing in our communities. If we had proper funding and leadership behind our education and our job training and our health care in this state and we invested with more infrastructure around the state, including high-speed internet, more broadly and affordable housing in our communities, we could attract higher quality job and we could also retain and recruit more young people to stay here. It also comes back to the Natural Outdoors Resources Trust Fund. It is time that we finally funded that because that is constitutionally protected source of money that can be used to protect our water, clean up our topsoil and clean up our rivers, our lakes, our streams for hunting and fishing and kayaking and boating and tourism and recreation. That is quality of life. That is what recruits people. Good education, good training and a good quality of life.

Q: Farming is huge in the state of Iowa. We have a tariff war going on right now. Farmers are concerned. How do you ensure that Iowa farmers can get the proper funding that they need and that they are not going to lose money?

A: The first thing that we should ensure is that we have a Governor who stands up for Iowans, regardless of who is in D.C. or what the party says. We have a Governor today who does what D.C. tells her to do. If I am Governor, I am going to do what is best for Iowans. We should have never have fought a trade war on the back of Iowa farmers. There are plenty of other ways to take on China if that is so important without having a trade war. Nobody wins in a trade war, even if we get this bailout, which farmers don't want, it is going to drive up the deficit and it is not going to solve the problem for farmers. Give them a little cash on a short-term basis but in the meantime, other countries are stepping in and taking away our markets. This is going to have a long-term negative impact on our agricultural communities and a good part of Iowa. We need a Governor who is going to stand up and defend Iowans, regardless of what the party or whoever is in D.C. says.

Q: Let's talk about Governor Reynolds right now and what do you think that she has done well for the state?

A: Well, you know, she recognizes that job training is very important and so she has the Future Iowa Taskforce, which is a great idea, but there is no funding. Nothing is going to happen or change in our state if we don't put adequate funding behind it. If it is really a priority, let's put the funding behind it so we can actually make the change.

Q: Do you think there is something that she has done well that she has provided funding or that she has succeeded?

A: I think if you look at our budget, all we have been doing has been cutting. We have cut employees, we have cut services, we have cut benefits, we have cut the budget year after year after year, we have cut taxes. None of those things are helping our state, none of them are helping us grow our state. They're taking away services and benefits for people, reducing access to education health care and infrastructure across our state.

Q: My last question would be about yourself. It is a two-part question. What is your biggest accomplishment in life and then what is your biggest failure?

A: It is easy on my biggest accomplishment. My biggest accomplishment is my three kids. That is any parents biggest delight is having children who grow up and are good participants and members of society, so clearly, my wife and I would say that is our biggest accomplishment. In terms of failure, it is interested. When I was to go take over Younkers in 1985, I thought I had a bunch of ideas about how to improve the business. When I got there I started traveling around and visiting the stores all across Iowa and talking to employees and what I learned is that they knew a lot more about the business and customers than I did. That was a real learning experience. What I learned is that you have to talk to the people that are being affected by decisions that are being made and get their input, their ideas before you make decisions because they are a lot more close to what is happening than you are when you're sitting in the Ivory Tower. That is the leadership style I want to bring to state government. That is why I am doing all these Medicaid and education and health care, mental health tours around the state, to really listen to people and find out what is really going on and find out how we can fix our state in ways that would be meaningful for them.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to say?

A: No, I appreciate the chance to be with you and I look forward to helping our state move forward in a very progressive way, effective way that is good for citizens all across our state.