(KWQC) - 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.