Hubbell talks priorities

Education, income and health care among Dem gubernatorial candidate’s top issues

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell discussed education, job training, income, health care and more at the office of former U.S. Special Ambassador Carlos Portes Tuesday afternoon.

With less than a year to go until the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell shared his priorities on education, job training, health care and income Tuesday afternoon.

“I want to restore opportunities, and I think I’ve got the experience and I’ve got the ideas about how to do that,” he said to a room of 32 people during a campaign stop held at the office of former U.S. Special Ambassador Carlos Portes.

Recent lower-than-expected budget estimates have had negative consequences for the state budget, and Hubbell said state tax credits to large businesses are part of the issue.

“I’ve run businesses that have gotten some of those tax credits, I’ve worked in economic development … so I’ve seen all these tax credits,” he said. “Some of them are good, a lot of them are not; I want to take money out of those that are wasteful and put that into education and job training and health care.”

Hubbell also said he would make education and job training a budget priority, adding the Gov. Kim Reynolds administration has not invested properly in those areas.

“We’re going to have to put more money into K-12,” he said, and added fewer teachers are coming out of Iowa’s colleges, and many move to other states for work. “They don’t have collective bargaining anymore, they don’t see much income and they feel disrespected.”

Hubbell also advocated for investing in preschool.

“If you invest in pre-K, that’s the best investment you can make in young minds, in young people, in the future of our state,” he said. “We need to fully fund that.”

Community colleges and the state’s three regent universities have also not received proper funding, Hubbell said. He blamed that lack of funding on “mismanagement of the budget” by the governor and state legislature.

On health care, Hubbell said the privatization of Medicaid has failed.

“We need to reverse the privatization of Medicaid,” he said, adding the managed care organizations (MCOs) often miss payments to care providers, and that patients sometimes see “reduced or eliminated benefits.”

Mental health care was also discussed.

“We don’t even have a youth mental health program,” Hubbell said. “We don’t have too many really effective community-based programs.”

However, he said he’s visited some counties that, through crisis training of police and detectives, have found ways move people with profound mental illness toward “effective community-based programs” and away from jails and emergency rooms.

“If we just make more early identification [and] prevention investments, smart ones, in mental health, it can actually save us money and provide better support for the individuals involved,” Hubbell said.

Additionally, he said he supports restoring funding to Planned Parenthood, and that water quality is a statewide issue which requires long-term, permanent funding.

To increase incomes, Hubbell said it is important to invest in infrastructure, as well as education, job training and health care. He said much of rural Iowa is missing out on infrastructure improvements being made in the state’s urban areas.

“We need to invest in infrastructure all across our state,” Hubbell said. “If you look at what’s going on in incomes for the rest of our state, they’re flat for about the last six years.”

He also said the state must invest in high-speed internet access for more people.

“We need to make some investments in high-speed internet across our state so people can actually work where they live rather than have to move to some other place to get a job,” Hubbell said.

He also discussed his work in the private sector, as chairman of Younkers and president of Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa. Additionally, he described his time working in state government on the Iowa Power Fund under Gov. Chet Culver, as well as his work with the state attorney general’s office in 2009 to help find a solution to the film tax credit scandal.

“I’ve run businesses that are quite large and been pretty successful at it by investing in people,” Hubbell said. “It’s the same in our state; if you don’t invest in state employees … then our state’s not going to do well.”