By Emily Wangen
Because, they say, Iowa’s public schools have generally suffered through a trend of disinvestment, the Democratic ticket campaigning to take over the Governor’s Office from Republican leadership says they will prioritize education.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Fred Hubbell and and Lt. Gov. nominee and state Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, launched their “Iowa Forward Tour” Monday with a stop in Coralville at Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa, 2301 Oakdale Blvd.
On June 16, Hubbell announced that Hart, who had been running for re-election in her district, would be his running mate. The announcement came during the Democratic State Convention in Des Moines.
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Hart said she hopes to bring her background in education to the Governor’s Office, having worked as an English teacher and as a leader of an educational program. She was elected to the Legislature in 2012, and she has served on a variety of committees, including the Senate Education Committee.
She said she is excited to run with Hubbell, noting he has the same vision and places the same importance on investment in education as she does.
“We’ve made a mistake in the last few years of not investing, and therefore it’s all about cutting, cutting, cutting instead of making some inroads in education to move us into a new era of increased investment and increased outcomes as a result,” Hart said.
Recently, the state Board of Regents voted to raise tuition for the three public universities — Iowa State University, the UI, and the University of Northern Iowa — anywhere from 1.2 to 3.8 percent. Regent Larry McKibben pointed out that tuition rates are likely to keep rising.
“Iowans need to understand that this is probably the low side of tuition in the future in the next years to come if we do not get any more governance support from the state of Iowa,” McKibben said during the June regents’ meeting.
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Fiscal mismanagement by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and the state Legislature are the problem behind rising tuition, Hubbell said.
“It’s not the regents’ fault; the regents just aren’t given enough support from the administration,” Hubbell said. “We’re going to have to look at every way we can to start putting money into education and in health care, and we’re going to do it by looking into places where the state’s not getting adequate return on tax cuts that have been handed out in the last few years or the wasteful giveaways they’re doing every year.”
Hubbell has referenced the Apple data center in Waukee as an example of corporate giveaways. In August 2017, the state and the city of Waukee lowered the projected property-tax value by $213 million over the next 20 years to bring the data center to Iowa.
Hubbell has said this was done at the expense of funding for higher education, among other funding. Reynolds, however, has suggested the project demonstrates Iowa’s reputation as a place where businesses can flourish.
“Apple’s significant investment and commitment to grow in Iowa is a clear vote of confidence in our state,” Reynolds said in a statement announcing the new data center. “This announcement further solidifies Iowa as a hub where innovation and technology flourish and demonstrates this is a place where world-class companies can thrive.”
Hubbell has proposed reducing tax credits and incentives and funneling that money into education funding, noting he believes it would be an investment in the future workforce.
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His goal is on par with the state’s mission to provide 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce with job training or education beyond high school by 2025, in line with the Future Ready Iowa Act Reynolds signed into law earlier this year.
“We’ve got employers screaming for more people and more trained people, and the reason we can’t find them is because we’re not investing to keep our people here,” Hubbell said. “We’re not investing to give them the kind of trained people that they need.”