Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell made a campaign stop in Fairfield Wednesday morning.
Hubbell spent a little over an hour talking to residents at Riverside Family Restaurant III. He has billed his travels across the state as ?Our Priorities Tour,? which means talking about the things important to him: education, health care and raising incomes.
Hubbell told a crowd of about 20 people in the restaurant that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds often talked about some of those same things, but he does not believe she has made them a priority in the budget. He said she has focused too much on accommodating businesses, and was particularly upset at what he perceived as unnecessary tax breaks for companies.
?We continue to give away $200 million a year on business tax credits,? he said. ?The government should cap tax exemptions, sunset them every five years, and do a fiscal impact analysis on them.?
Hubbell singled out the tax credits given to Apple to build a $1.38 billion data center in Waukee, set to open in 2020. The Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded Apple about $20 million in tax credits. In return, Apple will pay $500,000 per year to a public improvement fund for Waukee, and create 50 jobs at the data center.
Hubbell is a retired business executive. He was chairman of the retail chain Younkers, and later became CEO of the Equitable Life Insurance Company.
He addressed a large number of issues during his talk. The topics covered were:
? Hubbell said the state?s decision to privatize Medicaid has ?damaged households.?
? He said community-based mental health programs ?pay for themselves? in the form of a lower recidivism rate. He said the state needs a separate program specifically for youth suffering from mental health problems. He said the goal should be to get them out of emergency rooms and jails, and to get them the treatment they need.
? Hubbell said he is a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, and hopes to restore its state funding that was cut last year.
?Planned Parenthood provides cancer screening and reproductive health care,? he said.
Hubbell said it was too bad that Planned Parenthood had to close four clinics in Iowa last year after the funding cut. He said 15,000 patients were affected by those closures.
Hubbell told a story about the importance of finding common ground with people who hold different beliefs. When he was chairman of Younkers in the 1980s, the head of Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, a Catholic organization, asked him to join its board of directors. He told her that he was also involved with Planned Parenthood. The woman told Hubbell that the two of them agreed on more than they disagreed, and still wanted him to join the board.
? He said Iowa had the third lowest incomes in the country, and that they had only risen 1 percent since 2010.
? He wants to improve the quality of internet in the state.
?If we had good internet, people could work from home, and we wouldn?t need to give so much to Apple to get those jobs,? he said.
? A member of the audience asked Hubbell if he favored universal health care at the state level, which is what California is considering. He said that, barring federal universal health care, it was a good idea. However, he said California had not found a way to pay for it.
? Hubbell was asked about the state of the environment in Iowa. He said a lot of wells no longer have quality water. He said county boards of supervisors don?t have enough control over confined animal feeding operations.
Fairfield resident Brian McDonald said Hubbell seems as knowledgeable about government as Tom Vilsack, who McDonald has worked with.
?I?m not ready to commit to supporting him, but [Hubbell] seems to embody what a governor should be,? he said. ?He?s not trying to be partisan. Some politicians act like they want to eat somebody alive, but [Hubbell] doesn?t. He?s not an ideological or angry person.?
Resident Mary Tarnoff asked Hubbell several questions about health care. Tarnoff is on a plan outside an employer, and said it is very expensive. She said she liked Hubbell?s idea of giving those people the option to buy into state Medicare.
?Medicare works well,? she said. ?My husband is on it and he loves it.?
Tarnoff said Hubbell would make a quality governor.
?He has a broad background and understands all segments of society,? she said. ?I like all the Democrats. I wouldn?t be upset if any of the top four were elected.?
Tarnoff said she also likes Cathy Glasson, and wants to meet Nate Boulton.
Resident Cheryl Fusco Johnson said there are many excellent gubernatorial candidates running this year. She liked what she heard Wednesday morning.
?I thought Fred did a good job of listening, and his responses were well-informed,? she said.