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Reynolds, Hubbell Debate On Budget, Medicaid In Sioux City

Tim Hynds
Sioux City Journal

During the second gubernatorial debate held in Sioux City Wednesday night, the candidates fought over their positions on the state’s fiscal situation and the future of Medicaid.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds praised Iowa’s growing economy and said the state’s budget is balanced. She said she wants to work to bring down the corporate tax rate while continuing to focus on education and health care.

“We’re seeing incomes rising and that’s why we’re seeing our economy grow and we’re gonna continue to work hard to help Iowans keep more of their hard earned money and to be competitive as a state,” Reynolds said.

Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell criticized the governor's budget, saying the state has an unexplainable surplus.

“Part of that is taxes,” Hubbell said. “We need to have a tax system that works, that helps contribute towards a predictable, balanced budget.”

He says he’d like to look into how President Donald Trump’s tariffs are affecting the state, which he says will help dictate what it can afford as far as tax cuts.

The two also sparred over Medicaid. Asked how he would begin reversing Medicaid privatization, Hubbell said managed care costs are rising, and the state needs to take control.

“And we need to change the emphasis away from just the profits or the outside managed care and instead make it on quality of outcome for the people and Medicaid balanced with the costs,” he said.

Reynolds acknowledged that the negative personal experiences she’s heard under Medicaid privatization are “unacceptable.”

“And my vision is to make sure that I can look parents in the eye and guarantee them a system that’s sustainable that’ll take care of their loved one today, tomorrow and into the future,” she said. “And that was not the case with the old system. That was not sustainable. We would be talking cuts.”

Reynolds said she’s not clear on how Hubbell would pay for the reversal.

After the debate, Sioux City resident David Bernstein said he was thrilled the candidates came to Sioux City, and he felt they both have strengths and weaknesses. He said he supports Hubbell.

“I do feel overall the Medicaid situation in Iowa is a big problem, and I think a lot of other folks do and it’s just something that needs to be addressed,” Bernstein said.

Sioux City resident Tom Gould, who is not registered with a party, said based on what he heard during the debate, he supports Reynolds. He said he was impressed by some of the data the governor presented to hammer home some of her points on education. Reynolds touted the state’s 4th place ranking in investing in K-12 education, and 8th place ranking in teachers’ salaries nationwide. 

“I was really shocked, I had no idea it had risen that much,” Gould said. “…I give the legislature, possibly her, great props for that, I was really surprised.”

The candidates will face off again Sunday in Davenport.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.