Gov. Kim Reynolds conceded in her first Condition of the State address that mistakes have been made in the swift, total delivery of the state’s Medicaid program into the hands of private managed care firms. And yet, her administration has done precious little to mitigate the damage done by privatization to clients and health care providers. And her administration can’t explain whether the change is saving money, or is costing Iowa more.
She proposed a reasonable package of tax reductions and reforms, only to later sign a massive, budget-busting series of cuts approved by Republicans who run the Legislature. As for trimming a long list of special interest tax breaks gobbling hundreds of millions in revenues with little accountability, there’s been talk but no action.
On water quality, given a chance to lead and put a signature accomplishment in place, she signed a tepid bill left over from a previous legislative session. The first woman to hold the office of governor has endorsed a series of legislative attacks on women’s access to reproductive health care. Reynolds has shown an unwillingness to stand up to legislative overreach and excess, even when lawmakers slashed funding for energy efficiency programs integral to the Iowa Energy Plan she helped craft as lieutenant governor.
We hoped to ask Reynolds to explain these and other decisions, and how she’d lead Iowa in the future, but she declined to schedule a meeting with our board.
After meeting with her three challengers — Democrat Fred Hubbell, Libertarian Jake Porter and independent Gary Siegwarth — we believe Hubbell is the best choice to dramatically change course at the Statehouse. He earns our endorsement.
On Medicaid, Hubbell told us he would, unlike the Branstad-Reynolds administration, bring together a wide array of Medicaid stakeholders and state leaders immediately after the election to chart a way back to a system controlled by Iowans.
His administration would move with a sense of urgency to help providers struggling with reimbursements, while moving with deliberate caution on major changes with hopes of softening the effects on clients.
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Hubbell has promised a renewed effort to weed out tax credits, exemptions and deductions where costs to the state outweigh benefits. He led a similar effort a decade ago, only to watch his panel’s recommendations go unheeded. We believe that experience will be invaluable as he leads a new effort to tip the fiscal balance in Iowa back toward priorities such as funding our public schools and universities.
Hubbell backed the effort in 2010 to put the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund in the constitution, and has pledged to at long last support a sales tax increase to fill it. He’s been a longtime champion of women’s health care access and will carry on that cause in the governor’s office.
Although his vow to change course is appealing, details are missing from Hubbell’s vision for the state beyond his disagreements with the current governor. We’d like to see him lead on transparency, starting with the release of more of his tax records. Perhaps Hubbell’s best decision of the campaign is his choice of running mate in state Sen. Rita Hart, who brings expertise on agriculture, rural development and education issues.
Although our endorsement goes to Hubbell, we’d urge voters not to take Porter’s campaign lightly. The Libertarian nominee is a serious candidate with an ambitious policy agenda. In particular, Porter is talking about criminal justice reform measures that are not getting much attention on the campaign trail, including sentencing reforms for non-violent drug offenses, racial disparities in arrests and restoring felon voting rights.
Porter, as a major party candidate, should have been included in gubernatorial debates. His perspective would have enriched those forums.
Siegwarth’s campaign is focused almost exclusively on the need to clean up Iowa’s waterways and protect its natural resources. His knowledge is considerable and his enthusiasm is contagious as he seeks to convince Iowans of the critical importance of our natural resources, one voter at a time. It’s an important message, and we applaud Siegwarth for stepping up to be heard.
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