The third and final televised debate between Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell was held early this morning and the candidates clashed over a variety of topics, each accusing the other of misleading Iowans.
“The governor can promise all the tax cuts that she wants, but you have to balance the budget,” Hubbell said, “and we should do it on a predictable basis.”
Reynolds repeatedly brought up the tax issue:
“I have no idea, except for to raise your taxes, how Fred is going to even come close for paying for all of the promises that he’s made.”
Hubbell said the GOP tax plan Reynolds touts has restrictions that may not allow it to fully go into effect.
“The likelihood that tax cut for the middle class is going to happen in 2024 is no more likely than than the cow jumping over the moon,” Hubbell said.
Reynolds argued the promise of those tax cuts has been an economic driver.
“We’re reducing taxes and regulations and created a pro-growth environment,” Reynolds said, “where we’re seeing our economy grow.”
The pace of growth in state support of public schools was also a point of debate. Reynolds says the success of a program shouldn’t be measures “by the sheer amount of dollars” put into it.
“(I’m) proud of our investment in education, as I’ve said, fourth in the country,” Reynolds said. “And I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do even with higher education.”
Hubbell pointed to the mid-year budget cuts to the state universities and argued K-12 schools are being asked “to do more and more with less.”
“We’ve had eight years in a row of about a 1.3 percent average increase in student funding in our schools,” Hubbell said. “Inflation has been 2.5 to 3 percent in each of those eight years.”
Reynolds has been airing campaign ads hammering Hubbell’s management of the Younkers department store chain and she used the debate to make this charge: “Fred, when you were the CEO of Younkers, the IRS said you owed, that Younkers owed, $9 million in back taxes. That doesn’t sound like fiscal responsibility to me.”
Hubbell responded, saying the payment was the outcome of a 1992 tax audit.
“I knew that the governor was going to be throwing the kitchen sink at me,” Hubbell said. “…Younkers had a tax reserve, which most public companies do. They negotiated with the IRS. The actual change in the reserves was very small. It did not affect gross income of Younkers at all and it was a perfectly normal situation.”
Reynolds twice accused her opponent of favoring repeal of Iowa’s “right-to-work” law that forbids forced union membership, prompting this response from Hubbell: “If the legislature determines that the right-to-work bill should be passed and they give me a bill that’s good for small businesses and the economy, I will sign that bill,” Hubbell said.
Hubbell accused Reynolds of supporting the roll-back of Iowa’s collective bargaining law for “purely political reasons.”
“They wanted to reduce the impact of labor unions in the state to strengthen the Republican Party. It had nothing to do with being good for our state,” Hubbell said. “…Now, teachers and state workers don’t have the right to strike or collectively bargain. It’s not fair.”
Reynolds said the new law which limits contract talks to salaries only “put taxpayers at the negotiating table.”
In responding to questions about immigration, Reynolds said she is open to sending Iowa National Guard troops to seal the southern border. Hubbell said such a move would put Iowa soldiers in harm’s way for political reasons.
The debate was sponsored by The Quad City Times, KWQC in the Quad Cities and KCRG in Cedar Rapids. WOWT in Omaha also broadcast the hour-long debate, which started at 8 a.m. Sunday.