Corbett makes his case

Republican gubernatorial candidate talks tax reform, water quality, Medicaid

Republican gubenatorial candidate Ron Corbett discussed his campaign during a visit to the Times-Republican office Friday morning.

Former Cedar Rapids mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Corbett laid out some of his priorities for the office when he visited the Times-Republican office Friday, and spoke about tax reform, water quality, Medicaid and more.

“The Republican Party, for sure, really believes in competition, and in the political system, competition is good because the candidates get out working more,” he said. “I just don’t believe that people should blindly give their vote to someone, that there should be a competition for their vote.”

While Gov. Kim Reynolds, his Republican primary opponent, has made tax reform a 2018 legislative priority, Corbett said he has been talking about the issue for a long time.

“Our plan is a 3 percent flat tax for the state of Iowa; get rid of all the special interest deductions and have a fair, simple, competitive system,” he said, adding he advocated for “tax modernization” even before running for governor. “We feel that we’ve really set the parameters of the discussion by talking about tax reform and elevated that issue to one, now, that many, many people are talking about.”

With a federal tax reform passed recently. Corbett said state tax reform should be a priority, and advocates for a change from Iowa’s current progressive tax system.

“Historically, Iowa has had a progressive tax system; the more you make, you go into a higher tax bracket,” Corbett said. “Because of deductions and credits that have been put in the code, it’s actually skewed the tax code; we hammer the middle class with our tax code right now.”

He said he sent letters to legislators urging them to reform individual tax code before focusing on the corporate tax code.

“I’ve been trying to sell why we need to do this, and specifically why the flat tax,” Corbett said. “All the governor has done is just recognized the need to do something, verbally, but she’s not out selling a plan.”

Reynolds spoke about reforming the tax code in her Condition of the State address to a joint session of the state House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month.

Corbett said he agreed with the governor on eliminating federal deductibility.

He also spoke about water quality in the state.

“I’ve also been advocating support of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund,” Corbett said, adding his plan would require a corporate match of taxpayer money. “It’s annual, it’s sustainable and it’s constitutionally protected.”

Additionally, he said farmers using conservation measures like buffer strips, cover crops and more face difficult financial decisions in the current agriculture economy.

“Beans are at $9.50, corn is at $3.50, and they’re really nervous about the commodity price,” he said. “When farmers are seeing input costs going up, they’re going to be looking at trying to reduce as much as they can, or maybe not add.”

That is another reason he said he supports a 3/8 cent sales tax increase for the trust fund.

“We shouldn’t peg our water quality progress to the price of corn and to the price of beans,” Corbett said.

The state’s privatized Medicaid system also needs to be changed, he said.

“I see the old, traditional, government-run Medicaid as ‘Medicaid 1.0’ and it had some challenges,” Corbett said. “The (former) Governor [Terry Branstad] ended up privatizing everything and went to ‘Medicaid 2.0’ and, as people are seeing, that is having as many challenges, if not more.”

He said he wants to transition to what he calls “Medicaid 3.0.”

“What I would advocate is a transition to Medicaid 3.0, and that’s taking some of the best of 1.0 and the best of 2.0,” Corbett said, adding his plan takes into account three groups that often rely on Medicaid: people with disabilities, people in long-term care and people with low incomes.

“I would move the disability part back under a more traditional ‘fee for service,’ along with nursing homes … that long-term care,” he said. “I think there’s a benefit to managed care when it comes to the low-income population, when you can incorporate some initiatives like prevention, and initiatives like wellness.”

Instead of having out-of-state for-profit companies provide managed care, Corbett said he would rather “put together a non-profit Iowa consortium, that would manage the care of that low-income population.”

He also advocated for adding 25-50 beds for those with severe mental illness.

“They closed Clarinda, they closed Mount Pleasant, they closed the girls’ home in Toledo; these are all top-down, unilateral decisions without much input or feedback from the citizens of Iowa,” he said, adding that people should be able to get localized care when possible and that higher-level care should also be available. “There are some people who are better served where they need that higher degree of care.”

Corbett said he would take a “bottom-up” approach if elected governor.

“That’s how I rebuilt Cedar Rapids after the flood … we reached out and we rebuilt the city from the bottom up,” he said. “I do believe that the Branstad-Reynolds era … they had their chance over the last eight years, and it’s important to give new people an opportunity.”

The primary election is slated for June 5.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com