By DEB KUNKLE
Fred Hubbell, a democratic gubernatorial candidate, met with area supporters Saturday noon at Mona’s Firepit Lounge and Grill in downtown Oelwein on a stop of his “Standing Up For Iowa’s Farmers Tour.”
It was a miserable day weather-wise to be campaigning but approximately a dozen local residents came to listen to Hubbell in person and ask a few questions.
Hubbell started his visit explaining what he feels is lacking in the way current administration is handling issues in Iowa.
“I want to put people first, get them the respect and support in education and job training to help them reach their potential,” he said.
Hubbell said in order to do that we need to put the budget behind the priorities.
As an example, he said Governor Reynolds recently signed legislation to address the mental health crisis in our state. The bill was passed with a lot of Republican and Democratic support.
“It is a good bill with a lot of good points in it, but what’s lacking is the most important thing, is there any money — there is no money behind it. We’re not going to see any progress, any results, because there is no allocation. We need to put budget behind the priorities,” Hubbell said.
Hubbell explained what he considers state priorities.
“The first I call quality life-long learning. We must be able to fund all public schools across the state,” he said.
Hubbell added that Iowans need college to be affordable and need to have job training available at every high school. He said businesses and community colleges need to be partners in that effort.
“We need to challenge ourselves as citizens so that our goal should be to get our education system back to where it used to be, which was one of the states in the country with the best educational results,” he said. “That used to be one of the best things we could use to attract jobs to our state and we can’t use that now.”
“The second key priority for me is healthcare. From day one, I want to start reversing the privatization of Medicaid,” Hubbell said. “I want to bring that back under state management where it needs to be.”
Hubbell said there is a need to support leadership and funding behind mental health care and substance abuse. He said in his travels and talking to people across Iowa, no matter what table he sits at, someone brings up the issue of substance abuse or mental health situations in their family. He said it is imperative to get funding to support the work that needs to be done toward mental health care and substance abuse in the state.
Hubbell also wants to address Iowa air and water quality.
“Again to me it’s not what Branstad said or what Reynolds talks about it being urban vs. rural issues, to me it’s an Iowa issue so all of Iowa should be part of the solution. I want to unite people behind long-term permanent solutions to our air and water quality issues,” he said.
His third priority is to improve personal income growth in Iowa.
“Last year Iowa was 49th in the country in personal income growth. I want to raise the minimum raise. We can actually attract better quality jobs with better wages. I want to restore opportunities to people in our state,” Hubbell said.
“We’re going to have to put some money behind high-speed Internet, affordable housing, invest in infrastructure to attract these high-quality jobs. That’s how we should be growing in this state,” he said.
Hubbell said rather than giving tax breaks to big companies like Microsoft that don’t need the tax breaks and didn’t ask for them, we should be investing in infrastructure, housing and better wages.
“So my point is I want to restore opportunities for our people, invest in our people, invest in our state and stop reducing things. I’ve never seen any organization not be successful by not investing in itself,” he said.
“Is it possible to reverse all these things just by getting a Democratic governor if the legislature is still Republican majority?” one person asked.
Hubbell said a governor can stop things if he or she doesn’t like them.
“You can also keep legislators there to work things out if that’s what is necessary to change a piece of legislation,” he said. “A governor has certain powers that can be initiated.”
Another person asked about the state’s resources and renewable energy.
Hubbell said he is supportive of the state’s growing wind farm industry and initiatives. He also continues to be encouraged with recent solar developments across the state.
“Energy efficiency is the fastest investment return and the cheapest investment in the state. Why wouldn’t people want to capitalize on that?” he said.
Hubbell was asked how the state could save money and still see economic growth.
He said that giving big tax breaks to companies and not seeing a return on the investment is what is hurting Iowa. He suggested scrolling back the tax breaks.
“We keep giving tax breaks away but not getting follow through on what the company will do with the extra revenue. It is supposed to add economic growth, but we are not seeing that,” he said.