TV6 sits down with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ahead of the upcoming election
TV-6 sat down with Republican Governor Kim Reynolds ahead of the Iowa Gubernatorial Election. Election day is November 6th.
What is the single biggest issue facing Iowa right now?
"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."
What exactly is your tax plan, include numbers and how much that would yield for the Iowans?
"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."
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?
"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."
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?
"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."
Does our health care system right now in Iowa need to change or stay the same and why?
"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."
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?
"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."
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.
"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."
What's your biggest accomplishment as Governor so far?
"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."
And what's something in your term as Governor so far you think [I] could've done better at or maybe a regret?
"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."