DES MOINES — GOP gubernatorial challenger Ron Corbett says Kim Reynolds hasn’t shown him much since taking the reins of state government in May from former Gov. Terry Branstad.
Corbett, who is stepping down as Cedar Rapids mayor after two terms to take on Reynolds in the 2018 GOP primary next June, said he hoped to see plans to “modernize” Iowa’s income tax system, improve the quality of waterways and address state budget woes during Reynolds’ first 100 days as governor, but none of that has happened.
“She didn’t come in as a rookie governor,” said Corbett, noting that Reynolds touted her close working relationship with Branstad as his lieutenant governor.
“We need a new game plan for the state of Iowa, and unfortunately, in the governor’s first 100 days, she hasn’t proposed any policy,” he told reporters on the lawn outside the Capitol. “Her biggest accomplishment is the reboot of the state license plate.”
Corbett said Reynolds missed opportunities last legislative session to introduce a state tax overhaul plan, to get a jump on deepening budget problems by making cuts early and to put in place a sustainable long-term approach to improving water quality.
Reynolds said she has been having ongoing talks with Iowans about her goals to make the state’s economy more competitive starting with the tax code, and to make strides in education and water quality.
Corbett said he is concerned the initiatives are being forged in “the backrooms of the state Capitol.”
“You see, the only people that know where the backrooms are are the special interest groups,” he told reporters.
Corbett also expressed misgivings about the state’s decision to privatize its $5 billion Medicaid program and the “secret” talks under way with three for-profit companies to set new reimbursement rates. He said he would like to see Medicaid run by nonprofit Iowa companies.
Corbett said he was concerned about 73,000 Iowans caught in the Affordable Care Act debate who face huge health insurance premium increases even if a federal waiver is granted for the coming year. He said those Iowans should be added to the state government health insurance pool but pay higher premiums not subsidized by taxpayers.
Corbett applauded Apple Inc.’s decision to locate its $1.3 billion data center project and 50 jobs near Waukee but said he would have pressed the company to create up to 250 jobs to receive the state’s $20 million tax incentive package.
In response to Corbett’s comments, Reynolds campaign spokesman Phil Valenziano issued a statement saying the governor and acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg are focused on building a better Iowa.
“The unemployment rate is near 20-year lows, we have the highest high school graduation rate in the nation, and we just landed the largest private investment project in Iowa history,” Valenziano said.